Author: Valerie Hansen
Publication: April 13th 2021 by Penguin
Genre: Nonfiction, History
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When did globalization begin? Most observers have settled on 1492, the year Columbus discovered America. But as celebrated Yale professor Valerie Hansen shows, it was the year 1000, when for the first time new trade routes linked the entire globe, so an object could in theory circumnavigate the world. This was the ‘big bang’ of globalization, which ushered in a new era of exploration and trade, and which paved the way for Europeans to dominate after Columbus reached America.
Drawing on a wide range of new historical sources and cutting-edge archaeology, Hansen shows, for example, that the Maya began to trade with the native peoples of modern New Mexico from traces of theobromine – the chemical signature of chocolate – and that frozen textiles found in Greenland contain hairs from animals that could only have come from North America.
Moreover, Hansen turns accepted wisdom on its head, revealing not only that globalization began much earlier than previously thought, but also that the world’s first anti-globalization riots did too, in cities such as Cairo, Constantinople, and Guangzhou.
Introducing players from Europe, the Islamic world, Asia, the Indian Ocean maritime world, the Pacific and the Mayan world who were connecting the major landmasses for the first time, this compelling revisionist argument shows how these encounters set the stage for the globalization that would dominate the world for centuries to come.
So I randomly bought this book when I was browing a bookstore one time because the cover drew me in and the title was also something that jumped out at me. It was kind of a sponaneous buy for me. And I decided to save it for this year’s Nonfiction November. I’m very glad I did so because it was a perfect nonfiction to dive into. Sometimes you just connect with a book, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction and I really did connect with this one. It was so good!
The author, Valerie Hansen is a professor of History at Yale University so obviously she really knows her stuff and this really shows in the book. It’s very well-researched as a book about history should be. There are also some amazing photographs of artifacts included in the book which I always love because you can actually look at some of the things mentioned in the book. I especially enjoyed taking a look at the blond men on the Chichen Itza murals, which may or may not be actual vikings. It gives a lot of food for thought, that’s for sure.
I loved all of the chapters and even wished some were a little longer like the chapter about the vikings. I haven’t read much about vikings in general but I’m even more interested in them after reading this book. As far as early exploration goes, they were some of the greatest. It was probably my favorite chapter out of them all, even though they were all really great to read. Consider me now a viking fan!
The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World – and Globalization Began was as fascinating as I hoped it would be. It was super engaging and written in an easy-to-read way. In short: it was quite the page-turner. I would love to read more of Valerie Hansen’s work.
About the author:
Valerie Hansen teaches Chinese and world history at Yale, where she is professor of history. In the course of writing The Year 1000, she traveled to some twenty different countries and was a visiting scholar at Xiamen University in China, University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, and the Collège de France in Paris.
Having lived in China for six plus years, Valerie has visited at least 300 temples, climbed the Great Wall multiple times (once during a lightning storm), and posed next to the Terracotta Warriors eleven times. (All this in the company of her husband and three children)
Her books include The Silk Road: A New History, The Open Empire: A History of China to 1800, Negotiating Daily Life in Traditional China, Changing Gods in Medieval China, 1127-1279, and Voyages in World History (co-authored with Kenneth R. Curtis).