Power over Peoples: Technology, Environments, and Western Imperialism, 1400 to the Present

Power over Peoples: Technology, Environments, and Western Imperialism, 1400 to the Present

by Daniel R. Headrick
     
 

ISBN-10: 0691154325

ISBN-13: 9780691154329

Pub. Date: 03/25/2012

Publisher: Princeton University Press

For six hundred years, the nations of Europe and North America have periodically attempted to coerce, invade, or conquer other societies. They have relied on their superior technology to do so, yet these technologies have not always guaranteed success. Power over Peoples examines Western imperialism's complex relationship with technology, from the first

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Overview

For six hundred years, the nations of Europe and North America have periodically attempted to coerce, invade, or conquer other societies. They have relied on their superior technology to do so, yet these technologies have not always guaranteed success. Power over Peoples examines Western imperialism's complex relationship with technology, from the first Portuguese ships that ventured down the coast of Africa in the 1430s to America's conflicts in the Middle East today.

Why did the sailing vessels that gave the Portuguese a century-long advantage in the Indian Ocean fail to overcome Muslim galleys in the Red Sea? Why were the same weapons and methods that the Spanish used to conquer Mexico and Peru ineffective in Chile and Africa? Why didn't America's overwhelming air power assure success in Iraq and Afghanistan? In Power over Peoples, Daniel Headrick traces the evolution of Western technologies--from muskets and galleons to jet planes and smart bombs--and sheds light on the environmental and social factors that have brought victory in some cases and unforeseen defeat in others. He shows how superior technology translates into greater power over nature and sometimes even other peoples, yet how technological superiority is no guarantee of success in imperialist ventures--because the technology only delivers results in a specific environment, or because the society being attacked responds in unexpected ways.

Breathtaking in scope, Power over Peoples is a revealing history of technological innovation, its promise and limitations, and its central role in the rise and fall of empire.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780691154329
Publisher:
Princeton University Press
Publication date:
03/25/2012
Series:
Princeton Economic History of the Western World Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
416
Sales rank:
516,121
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.00(d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction Imperialism and Technology 1

On Imperialism 1

On Technology 3

The Goal and Organization of This Book 6

Notes 9

Chapter 1: The Discovery of the Oceans, to 1779 11

Five Seafaring Traditions 11

The Portuguese and the Ocean 20

Navigation 27

The Spanish Voyages 32

Completing the Map of the Oceans 41

Conclusion 50

Notes 51

Chapter 2: Eastern Ocean Empires, 1497-1700 59

The Portuguese in the Indian Ocean 59

The Ottoman Challenge 68

The Limits of Portuguese Power 74

The Dutch and the English in the Indian Ocean 79

China, Japan, and the Europeans 84

Conclusion 87

Notes 89

Chapter 3: Horses, Diseases, and the Conquest of the Americas, 1492-1849 95

The First Encounter: The Caribbean 96

The Conquest of Mexico 101

Peru and Chile 112

Argentina and North America 118

Disease and Demography 123

Conclusion 131

Notes 132

Chapter 4: The Limits of the Old Imperialism: Africa and Asia to 1859 139

Sub-Saharan Africa to 1830 139

India to 1746 147

The Military Revolution 151

Plassey and After 154

Reaching the Limit: Afghanistan and the Punjab 158

Reaching the Limit: Algeria, 1830-1850 163

Russia and the Caucasus 167

Conclusion 169

Notes 170

Chapter 5: Steamboat Imperialism, 1807-1898 177

Steamboats in North America 179

Steamers in South Asia 186

Routes to India 188

The Euphrates Route 191

The Red Sea Route 194

Britain and China 197

The Nemesis 200

Steamboats on the Niger 206

Steamboats and the Scramble for Africa 212

Conclusion 216

Notes 217

Chapter 6: Health, Medicine, and the New Imperialism, 1830-1914 226

Medicine and Africa in the Early Nineteenth Century 226

The Discovery of Quinine Prophylaxis 229

Public Health at Mid-Century 234

From Empirical to Scientific Medicine 237

Science and Tropical Diseases 239

Health and Empire at the Turn of the Century 243

Conclusion 249

Notes 251

Chapter 7: Weapons and Colonial Wars, 1830-1914 257

The Gun Revolution 257

Guns in Africa 265

The Scramble for Africa 269

North America 276

Argentina and Chile 284

Ethiopia 289

Conclusion 291

Notes 292

Chapter 8: The Age of Air Control, 1911-1936 302

The Beginnings of Aviation 303

Early Colonial Air Campaigns 306

Great Britain in Iraq 311

Air Control in Action 314

Spain in the Rif 321

Italy in Africa 324

Conclusion 327

Notes 329

Chapter 9: The Decline of Air Control, 1946-2007 334

France in Indochina 335

France in Algeria 337

The United States in Vietnam 340

The Soviet Union in Afghanistan 349

U.S. Military Aviation after Vietnam 353

The Gulf War 357

The Iraq War 359

Conclusion 363

Notes 364

Conclusion Technology and Imperialism Redux 370

Notes 373

For Further Reading 375

Index 381

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