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
     
 

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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

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.

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:
502,666
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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