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Global Lives
Britain and the World, 1550–1800


Part of Cambridge Studies in Historical Geography

  • Date Published: October 2008
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521607186

£ 22.99

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About the Authors
  • This is a fascinating and unique account of Britain's rise as a global imperial power told through the lives of over forty individuals from a huge range of backgrounds. Miles Ogborn relates and connects the stories of monarchs and merchants, planters and pirates, slaves and sailors, captives and captains, reactionaries and revolutionaries, artists and abolitionists from all corners of the globe. These dramatic stories give new life to the exploration of the history and geography of changing global relationships, including settlement in North America, the East India Company's trade and empire, transatlantic trade, the slave trade, the rise and fall of piracy, and scientific voyaging in the Pacific. Through these many biographies, including those of Anne Bonny, Captain Cook, Queen Elizabeth I, Pocahontas, and Walter Ralegh, early modern globalisation is presented as something through which different people lived in dramatically contrasting ways, but in which everyone played a part.

    • Britain's rise to global power told through lives of individuals across Africa, Asia, the Americas and the Pacific
    • Dramatic biographical accounts of more than over 40 individuals who bring to life the history and geography of empire
    • Extensively illustrated with more than 65 illustrations
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Today's most enthralling histories tell grand narratives of empires, oceans and peoples but can often lose touch with the human scale. Like some panoramic Plutarch, Miles Ogborn uses parallel lives to illustrate global processes. Global Lives weaves more than forty succinct biographies - some familiar, like those of Sir Walter Ralegh and Captain Cook, others hitherto obscure, like the Madras merchant Kasi Viranni's and the Jamaican slave-woman Sarah Affir's - into a kaleidoscopic account of Britain's rise to world power. Ogborn's remarkable book brings an empire to life through the lives that built the empire. David Armitage, Harvard University

    'Global Lives tells a wonderfully accessible story of how the world changed between the sixteenth century and the eighteenth century - how new forms of connection were made, across the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, how the British Empire came to dominate substantial parts of the world. Elizabethan adventurers, Madras merchants, transatlantic seamen, Caribbean planters, Irish rebels, enslaved Africans, fill the pages of this enlivening narrative with their diverse and complicated stories of geographical connections and dislocations, empowerment and resistance, violence and dispossession. This is a richly peopled history of global expansion - and one to be greatly welcomed by students, teachers, and readers of all kinds.' Catherine Hall, University College London

    'Global Lives breathes new life into world history by focusing on individual experiences of what we now refer to as globalization between the sixteenth and the eighteenth centuries. Rather than a grand narrative of the march of modernity, this is a variegated tapestry of lives made and unmade by trade, war, slavery, empire and Enlightenment. Brilliantly realized through a series of compelling sketches of the lives of over forty individuals - ranging from traders, sailors and adventurers to philosophers, rulers and slaves - this is a richly evocative and challenging account which raises important questions not only about global change, but also about ways of writing about it.' Felix Driver, Royal Holloway, University of London

    'Miles Ogborn's Global Lives stages the grand drama of Britain's relations with the world between the Elizabethan Age and the Georgian era, parading a rich cast of skilfully drawn and extraordinarily diverse characters. Interweaving big historical themes with the everyday experiences of men and women, princes and paupers, and the inhabitants of four continents, Ogborn's fascinating mix of macro and micro history should appeal both to students and the general reader.' John Brewer, California Institute of Technology

    'This book will prove a gold-mine for teachers seeking original and riveting tales to tell their students …' The Historical Association

    '… gives a new meaning to 'geography', one which this reviewer wishes has been the case in his undergraduate days.' Contemporary Review

    'Miles Ogborn has constructed a rich and fascinating narrative of the rise of the British Empire that places it squarely within the concerns of world history and invites classroom discussion of issues of methodology and interpretation.' World History Bulletin

    'Written in an accessible and pithy manner, this book is an important text to those new to global history and should find its way onto the reading list of many a global history module … It should also appeal to the more established practitioners within the field, as an exemplary instance of how global history can be written differently.' Journal of Global History

    'Adroitly blending the vast scope of historical geography with the contextualized specificity of individual biography, Ogborn brings to life Britain's central role in the creation of the early modern global world.' Journal of Interdisciplinary History

    '… wonderful reading, full of good stories and important connections and insights, and would make a valuable addition to any course on the history of early modern Britain or the British Empire.' Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History

    '… a richly layered and analytically controlled survey of Britain's expanding global presence in the early modern period. The book's chief strength lies in Ogborn's ability to filter the forces of world history through the experiences of forty-two diverse and compelling individuals who, to varying degrees, helped to shape that history … vibrant synthesis of macro- and microhistory.' Journal of British Studies

    'Many of the subsections are titled according to the format of 'The World of Sarah Affir 'and 'The World of William Dampier'' but this is much more than a series of mini-biographies, and, in combination with the more broadly themed sections dealing with subjects like slavery, trade, violence and enlightenment, they allow Ogborn to produce a work that allows the reader an insight into the variegated personal experiences of empire.' Annual Bulletin of Historical Literature

    'Miles Ogburn wrote Global Lives to highlight human agency in the development of the British Empire, and 'to put the life back into global history' … He succeeds on both counts … constructs a rich, complex and multifaceted story of an empire's expansion by fits and starts. … Well-written, thoughtful and sympathetic, Global Lives deserves broad appeal for undergraduates, as well as the general public.' The Geographical Journal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2008
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521607186
    • length: 364 pages
    • dimensions: 247 x 174 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.72kg
    • contains: 40 b/w illus. 26 maps 7 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Global lives
    2. The Elizabethan world
    3. Savage tales: settlement in North America
    4. East meets west: the English East India Company in India
    5. Into the Atlantic: the triangular trade?
    6. Maritime labour: sailors and the seafaring world
    7. Maritime violence: buccaneers, privateers and pirates
    8. Human cargo: the Atlantic slave trade
    9. Sugar islands: plantation slavery in the Caribbean
    10. In black and white: fighting against the slave trade
    11. Navigation and discovery: voyagers of the Pacific

  • Author

    Miles Ogborn, Queen Mary University of London
    Miles Ogborn is Professor of Geography at Queen Mary, University of London. His previous publications include Spaces of Modernity: London's Geographies, 1680–1780 (1998) and Indian Ink: Script and Print in the Making of the English East India Company (2007).

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