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In this stimulating and authoritative overview, Michael Pearson reverses the traditional angle of maritime history and looks from the sea to its shores – its impact on the land through trade, naval power, travel and scientific exploration. This vast ocean, both connecting and separating nations, has shaped many countries' cultures and ideologies through the movement of goods, people, ideas and religions across the sea.
The Indian Ocean moves from a discussion of physical elements, its shape, winds, currents and boundaries, to a history from pre-Islamic times to the modern period of European dominance. Going far beyond pure maritime history, this compelling survey is an invaluable addition to political, cultural and economic world history.
"Among the literature produced on the Indian Ocean in the previous three decades, Michael Pearson's present work stands apart."
– Atlantic Economic Journal
"For the reader new to the subject they will provide stimulating and informative introductions [...] [and] will easily win a place on the few reading lists around the world that feature Indian Ocean studies."
– The Round Table
"[Pearson's] impressive tour de force through human history [...] covers a remarkably wide range of topics, he also writes very well [...] The book will certainly become the standard account for this history of the Indian Ocean for some time."
– Social Anthropology Journal
"This is a book that maritime archaeologist should find useful."
– Nautical Archaeology
List of illustrations
Series editor's preface
Map of the Indian Ocean
1. Deep structure
2. Humans and the sea
3. The beginning of the ocean
4. Muslims in the Indian Ocean
5. Europeans in an Indian Ocean world
6. The early modern Indian Ocean world
7. Britain and the ocean
8. History in the ocean Notes
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M.N. Pearson is Emeritus Professor at the University of New South Wales, Australia. His previous publications include Port Cities and Intruders: the Swahili Coast, India, and Portugal in the Early Modern Era (1998) and Pious Passengers: The Hajj in Earlier Times (1994).
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