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The Edge of the World: A Cultural History of the North Sea and the Transformation of Europe (2014)

av Michael Pye

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7742229,014 (3.62)30
Tells the story of how modernity emerged on the shores of the North Sea, uncovering a lost history of a thousand years rife with saints, spies, pirates, philosophers, artists, and intellectuals.
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Visa 1-5 av 21 (nästa | visa alla)
I can't say this is a poorly written history book. But the style and narrative does seem kind of one dimensional. Some chapters are better than others and overall there is a ton of information that is not normally discussed in other books on this subject. I will give the writer props, there are sections which give the reader cause to go "Oh MY" I love the parts on the Islamic world meeting the Norse environment. I have read Ibn Fadlan's accounts on his meetings and observations with the Vikings. As a history fan The Edge of the World is recommended. Mr. Pye does a wonderful job of giving the reader an idea of how much terror and icy fear these traders and adventurers must have faced and felt while crisscrossing the North Sea. Sea Monsters, lore, and a land beyond with strange curious and terrifying inhabitants...his descriptions of this really crawl under the skin.
The triangle of Anglo Saxons, Irish, and Vikings intermingling is fascinating. The Roman Empire was well known for documentation, architecture, law and a desire to move the world forward. The former groups all but disdained those ideas, with the exception of a few who had the mind to preserve Roman knowledge, while the Christians did their best to imitate the same format, but rewrite it and use it as a self serving blueprint for Papal supremacy. What encompassed was a massive relearning of the ancient and classical world in the mindset of monotheism. Meanwhile we get hints of the Islamic world moving from beliefs that incorporated several religions into their own. And it is not hard to see just how cultured and educated they were compared to their European counterparts and what that would lead to. ( )
  JHemlock | Feb 21, 2024 |
Very well-written popular social history of northern Europe from about 800-1600. ( )
  Kate.Koeze | Apr 15, 2022 |
This held my interest to the end. Many readers have expressed disappointment, feeling that the author didn't prove his thesis; I feel he did. As I understand it, he sought to show that the people around the North Sea came up with many of the innovations that characterize the modern Western world, but that this contribution has been overshadowed by a Mediterranean-centered account of history in the Middle Ages and Renaissance. He seeks to redress the balance without denigrating the achievements of the world south of the Alps.
The subtitle is misleading; "cultural history" suggests an overarching narrative, whereas Pye's chapters tend to be thematic, with little to connect them to what precedes or follows. Even within chapters, he tends to be episodic. Along the way, though, he presents fascinating vignettes that presented me with a wealth of new information.
I was irritated by the author's writing style. It seems as if he is after a lively, colloquial tone, but seems uninterested in the construction of his sentences and paragraphs. Non sequiturs and needless repetition abound. Nevertheless, for the freshness of the material he conveys, I felt this was a good read. ( )
  HenrySt123 | Jul 19, 2021 |
Different regions of Europe have had power, from the Egyptians, the Greeks and Persians and Romans. But around 1000 years ago that focus of power moved from the Mediterranean area to the small shallow sea in between Britain and Europe, the North Sea.

The region had been conquered by the Romans 2000 years ago, but after they left it became a bit of a backwater. It changed as the people who lived on the shores came to master boat building, setting off on voyages far beyond the small limits of the North Sea to discover lands across the vast Atlantic Ocean.

Some of the seafarers bought terror to some places, we all know about the Vikings and their raids on coastal villages and monasteries, but slowly peaceful trade took over. Ideas and goods began to move back and forth across the waters, populations moved and settled, they adapted to change fairly quickly and the whole region thrived.

Pye looks at the history of this region through various subjects, money, fashion, nature and science to name a few, and teases out various stories and anecdotes to demonstrate his case. Wide-ranging though it might be, it sadly didn’t live up to expectations for me. Splitting it by theme meant that you were jumping backwards and forwards and from place to place. For me, concentrating on specific historical periods would have been better as it did feel that it was jumping around too much from period to period. ( )
  PDCRead | Apr 6, 2020 |
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» Lägg till fler författare (14 möjliga)

Författarens namnRollTyp av författareVerk?Status
Pye, MichaelFörfattareprimär författarealla utgåvorbekräftat
de Smet, ArthurÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
Ruiter, PonÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
van der Waa, FritsÖversättaremedförfattarevissa utgåvorbekräftat
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Tells the story of how modernity emerged on the shores of the North Sea, uncovering a lost history of a thousand years rife with saints, spies, pirates, philosophers, artists, and intellectuals.

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