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The Pacific (Seas in History) Hardcover – 27 Aug 2009

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'In straightforward fashion, Freeman presents a cornucopia of information, much of it well known but not as handily available as he makes it here.' CHOICE (Recommended title)

About the Author

Donald B. Freeman is Emeritus Professor of Geography, York University, Canada. His research interests include the historical geography of trade and development in the Pacific and Southeast Asia. His books include The Straits of Malacca: Gateway or Gauntlet?(2003).


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Covers an immense amount of space and time and does it well. 19 Feb. 2015
By lyndonbrecht - Published on
Format: Hardcover
This is one book in an excellent series, "Seas in History." Freeman, now deceased, was a prolific writer, and a fine one, appealing to both popular and more specialist readerships. This is an ambitious book, covering a huge ocean over several thousand years, in one volume. I ran across it in looking for other volumes in the series.

He starts with what might be called the physicality of the ocean, including gyres, currents and the thermohaline circulation--which could be out of date, given a rapid development of scientific understanding since the book was published. These have had serious impact on the human history he addresses. A second chapter examines human settlement, meaning quite widely, not the remarkable settlement in Micronesia and Polynesia, which comes later in the book. Call it the peopling of the Pacific. Then comes more, all remarkably inclusive given the immense arena of space and time he deals with. The book examines "discovery" by the Europeans, but also Pacific trade and exploitation by Pacific cultures. While I think the book is remarkably broad in what it considers, given the length of the book it is selective. I wish it had included more about mariners from Southeast Asia, for example

A chapter looks at technology, not just industrial era, that allowed human expansion and the later colonization. The huge expeditions by the Chinese mariner Cheng-ho (this is the most common spelling among several used) are considered. A final chapter looks at conflicts and wars,. Overall the book is a reminder that the Pacific connects us over time and space, not a huge barrier as it has sometimes been portrayed.
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