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The Sea and Civilization A Maritime History of the World by Lincoln P. Paine

The Sea and Civilization A Maritime History of the World

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A monumental, wholly accessible work of scholarship that retells human history through the story of mankind's relationship with the sea. An accomplishment of both great sweep and illuminating detail, The Sea and Civilization is a stunning work of history that reveals in breathtaking depth how people first came into contact with one another by ocean and river, and how goods, languages, religions, and entire cultures spread across and along the world's waterways.

The Good Book Guide logo The Good Book Guide Review. As the author says, to take Europe’s classic age of sail from the 16th to the 18th century as a model for the rest of maritime history is tempting, but erroneous. No one knows for certain when man first made his way onto the water, but there 6000-year-old Norwegian rock carvings show reindeer hunters in boats. This scholarly but very readable book takes the reader through the history of seafaring from the settlement of Oceania through the trade expansion of the Egyptians, Phoenicians, Greeks and Romans, before looking at the golden age of Asian trade. The final chapters look at the modern world of steam and steel, of computers and containers, where sea-borne trade is greater than ever.


The Sea and Civilization A Maritime History of the World by Lincoln P. Paine

The most enjoyable, the most refreshing, the most stimulating, the most comprehensive, the most discerning, the most insightful, the most up-to-date - in short, the best maritime history of the world.' Felipe Fernandez-Armesto.

Lincoln Paine takes us back to the origins of long-distance migration by sea with our ancestors' first forays from Africa and Eurasia to Australia and the Americas. He demonstrates the critical role of maritime trade to the civilizations of ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, and the Indus Valley. He reacquaints us with the great seafaring cultures of antiquity like those of the Phoenicians and Greeks, as well as those of India, Southeast and East Asia who parlayed their navigational skills, shipbuilding techniques, and commercial acumen to establish vibrant overseas colonies and trade routes in the centuries leading up to the age of European overseas expansion. His narrative traces subsequent developments in commercial and naval shipping through the post-Cold War era. Above all, Paine makes clear how the rise and fall of civilizations can be traced to the sea.


'A magnificently sweeping world history that takes us from the people of Oceania and concludes with the container. In contrast to most books on maritime history, the majority of The Sea and Civilization covers the history of the world before Columbus sailed the ocean blue and at least as much of the narrative focuses on Asia as it does on Europe.' --Ben Wilson, Daily Telegraph

'The Sea and Civilization is, without doubt, the most comprehensive maritime history ever produced... Some of the most exciting history published today is by freelancers like Paine who can ignore the rules of academia' --The Times

About the Author

Lincoln Paine is the author of four books and more than fifty articles, reviews, and lectures on various aspects of maritime history. He lives in Portland, Maine.

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Book Info

Publication date

2nd July 2015


Lincoln P. Paine

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Atlantic Books


784 pages


The Real World
eBook Favourites

Maritime history
General & world history
Shipping industries



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