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Spain's Road to Empire: The Making of a World Power, 1492-1763 Paperback – 3 Jul 2003

6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 656 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (3 July 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140285288
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140285284
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 722,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

More About the Author

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Product Description

About the Author

HENRY KAMEN was most recently Visiting Professor of History at the University of Chicago. He is the author of PHILIP OF SPAIN and lives in Barcelona.

Customer Reviews

2.8 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By F DEL POZO BERENGUER on 7 Jan. 2011
Format: Paperback
Being a Spaniard fond of history (albeit no scholar) I read this book because I am fed up with Spanish writers. I must admit I learned a lot, but the main thing about this book is that it seems a little bit like the personal interpretation of history by the author. It's like his theory. The facts are what they are, but the explanations given by the author are intriguing. The main line goes something like this: Spain was a world power of certain status during the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries (second to Great Britain and France in the late 17th and throughout the 18th century) because it was in the best interest of the other powers to keep her as such. It was convenient, (so Kamen says or implies) to keep a certain balance or status quo among the nations. I must say that his theories struck me as odd. I give it 3 stars because I enjoyed reading it, however puzzling his explanations seemed to me, and I learned history. But believe me, this is no ordinary history book. It's a personal defence of the theories of Kamen by himself. I would not give it 4 stars, because history books should be more objective, I think.
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24 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Loveitt on 9 Jan. 2003
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Kamen begins his book with the following lines of Bertolt Brecht: "The young Alexander conquered India. All by himself? Caesar beat the Gauls. Didn't he even have a cook with him?" The answers are obvious. Mr. Kamen asks a different question. Who built the Spanish Empire? The answer to that question seems obvious, also...the Spanish, right? But Mr. Kamen spends the next 500 pages showing us that the obvious answer, in this case, is the wrong answer. In a dazzling display of erudition, covering events in Granada, North Africa, Italy, the Spanish Netherlands, the Caribbean, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, etc., the author reveals that the Spanish Empire was built and maintained with the help of people of many nations...that it was a true "multinational enterprise". Mr. Kamen also shows that rather than the Empire being created by Spain, Spain was created by the Empire- for at the starting point of the book, 1492, there really was no such entity as Spain. Like several other European countries of the time, such as Italy and Germany, Spain consisted of many geographical units- each with its own language and/or culture, and people felt a loyalty to that particular area rather than to the larger abstraction called "Spain". Only after the Empire developed and the language of the largest geographical area, Castile, became the language of Empire did people start to think of themselves as belonging to something bigger than the particular region they lived in. Mr. Kamen also points out that the population of Spain (which was much less than that of France or England) was never great enough to provide the soldiers needed to support the far-flung Empire. Where did this Empire come from, though?Read more ›
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14 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Canberra Junior on 18 Sept. 2007
Format: Paperback
Believe it or not Kamen's books on the Spanish Empire are actually necessary in order to produce a renovated approach to the study of Empire building. There is plenty of food for thought in this book which will undoubtedly spark heated debate in the academic world. Unfortunately Kamen's theories are wild, subjective and blatantly anti-Spanish at times. His emphasis on Spain expecting her partners and allies to speak Spanish as if it were a sign of a blatant superiority complex is absolutely correct, but in what does this differ from other Imperial policies throughout history? Did the Romans take crash couses in Iberian and Gallic during their empire building? Were the British recognised as masters of the different Indian languages in their colonisation of the Sub-Continent or to further prove a point, how much diplomacy or trade was run in native languages up and down Africa? This lack of linguistic skill is applicable to France, Germany, the USA and any other country that has initiated a policy of imperialism and colonialisation. To mention such anecdotes as part of a theory is, in my opinion, puerile. A further point which demands criticism is his mention of the numbers of actual Spanish soldiers in Imperial armies in order to prove that Spain really -and I quote another reviewer- "did not have the muscle" to realise its imperial dreams. XVI century Europe had, to name just a few examples, French armies composed of minimal amounts of Frenchmen and rather large amounts of Swiss, Dutch armies composed mostly of German mercenaries and so on....so what is Kamen really trying to prove?

Kamen should for his own good promptly revert to an objective methodology and stick to facts which are surprisingly not that traumatic to obtain.
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