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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch!
This is a very ambitious book. It tries to examine the rise and fall of global empires over 500 years. The concentration is on the Ottoman, Mughal, Safavid (though quite slim on them), China, Japan, France, Britain, USA and Russia - with much briefer mention of other European powers such as the Dutch, Germans (Nazi Germany is given some page space) and the Beligians...
Published on 6 Sep 2007 by Grand Dizer

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10 of 14 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Darwins Origins and Lifes of Empires
John Darwin has a bitten off a fair chunk of history with his book on the Rise and Fall of Global Empires 1400-2000; the title of the book "After Tamerlane" seems, as other reviewers have suggested, to be a gimicky hook to attract customers.

The book itself starts off well, it covers the Moghul, Ottoman and Chinese Empires with admirable balance aswell as the...
Published on 23 April 2009 by S Wood


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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top notch!, 6 Sep 2007
This is a very ambitious book. It tries to examine the rise and fall of global empires over 500 years. The concentration is on the Ottoman, Mughal, Safavid (though quite slim on them), China, Japan, France, Britain, USA and Russia - with much briefer mention of other European powers such as the Dutch, Germans (Nazi Germany is given some page space) and the Beligians. Despite its great ambitions I think the book succeeds.

One way to describe this book is to call it the political version of Diamond's Guns Germs and Steel (but only for the last 500 years). Like GGS it looks into why certain states/nations/empires rise and why do others fall. GGS looks into the natural reasons and is detatched from political considerations (which is one of the many things that makes GGS so original). After Tamerlane concentrates far more on the political side and in this the author shows an impressively wide and deep knowledge.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Stunningly wide-ranging rereading of the history of empire, 26 April 2007
By 
D. Winchester "atomic83" (Bushey, UK) - See all my reviews
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1492, Chris Columbus sailed the ocean blue. And so Europe conquered the world.

Or so we have been taught. What we've all forgotten (or ignored) is that there were other world powers. Before the British Empire, before the United States, there were the Ottoman, Chinese and Islamic empires that lasted far longer and had more influence than anything Europe produced.

Tamerlane was the last world-conqueror, a violent inheritor of Genghis Khan, whose empire ranged from Iran to China to Moscow. After his death in 1405, his empire fell apart and the modern world as we know it began to form. Princes in Muscovy began to take control of their neighbours; China's accelerated cultural progress began to stagnate; and Europe's sea-worthy nations began to extract wealth from their overseas conquests.

AFTER TAMERLANE is a fabulously balanced and wide-ranging revelation of world history of the past six hundred years, written by one of our preeminent historians. John Darwin is a true star. Up to now he has been too busy making other historians famous; now it's his turn. AFTER TAMERLANE reveals the seeds of the modern world; read this if you want to understand what fawned today's world events.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars East to see why this book won awards, 30 Jan 2013
This review is from: After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400-2000 (Paperback)
It is easy to see why this is an award winning look at empire and it is not limited to just the European empires, and its breadth covering six hundred years of history yet readable without being overloaded. It helped give me an insight to the spread of empires and how they are nothing new and what and how different cultures managed or lived through them.

There are no assumptions made in the book and does not take the view that the West would always become dominant. This is a wondeful book if you want a clear and consise vew of global history and it is worth reading. This book is the opposite of Nial Ferguson who says Britain created the modern world, Darwin argues that all empire building created the world of today its good and bad, and that no empire was meant to last forever.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent overview, 31 Aug 2012
By 
Mr. Christopher Harris "Chris in Brum" (Birmingham UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400-2000 (Paperback)
I read this as one of the recommended "background" books for the Open University course "Empires" and I thought it was excellent. It's not an easy read because it is long, over 500 pages, and detailed. It is however very well written and if you keep at it you will discover a great many things and gain a good background knowledge of this subject.

As another reviewer has said it doesn't have a central "thesis"; it is much more a survey than an argument. If you want a "thesis" then Niall Ferguson's Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World and David Day's Conquest: How Societies Overwhelm Others, the other background books for the aforementioned OU course, are excellent. However if you want a survey then this is first class and an easy 5 star recommendation.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent study, 20 May 2011
By 
Carl (U.K. & U.S.A.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400-2000 (Paperback)
John Darwin's `After Tamerlane' is an impressive, extensively researched work that covers six hundred years of world history focusing on the Eurasian landmass.

The central argument attacks the idea that the rise of the `Western' world was inevitable owing to superiority in the fields of technology, economics, ideologies, and culture etc. This idea is proven without any doubt to be a flawed and invalid position. Darwin highlights that until the latter stages of the 19th Century the societies and cultures outside of Europe were just as advanced, in some cases even more so, and more aggressive in the will to build empires and dominate others; points Darwin convincingly argues. At this point, European control of the "outer world" and the Eurasian landmass became more and more certain due various factors; most notably the instability of the non-European great states, and the lack of cohesion within the smaller societies to withstand European expansion. The history of the pre-modern world is not the history of European domination and superiority.

Up until Chapter 8, the book provides an amazing insight into the development of the various regions of Eurasia (Europe, the Middle East, India, and the Far East) from 1400 to roughly 1900 showing how societies in each zone developed and how they compared to one another. One of most important points being that up until the last two hundred years or so, in general, the presence of Europeans had marginal effect on local affairs outside of Europe: Europeans were at the mercy of the local authorities not the other way around (An example of this can be seen in the early days of European trade with the east; an extensive network of naval trade routes was already established between the Middle East and the Far East by the time of the European arrival into the Indian Ocean, and Europeans only played a small role in that trade network until the 19th Century.).
Chapter 8 and beyond brings the reader into the last century to the present: detailing the events of the two world worlds, decolonisation (a further point argued is that the violence that was seen during this period owed much to local ethnic and religious divides along with problems imposed by previous non-European empires as much as the problems imposed by the Europeans themselves), the Cold War, and the rise of the United States as the world's only super power; posing questions on how long will America's position last.

While overall this is an excellent work and the overarching points well argued, I feel that there are some flaws. At times the prose seems complicated for the sake of being complicated, granted yes it is an academic work but I feel that the need to re-read sections over and over to understand the point being made or the need to consult a dictionary every few minutes hinders accessibility for even a student of history use to some heavy reading. The final sections of Chapter 8 and beyond also springs to mind, Darwin seems to go from logical arguments to being somewhat melodramatic in places. While the point of how the balance of power and wealth shifted across the Eurasian landmass over the last 600 years is well argued, the focus on Tamerlane as a starting point and the final chapter (the conclusion) being named `Tamerlane's Shadow' seem somewhat baffling; granted Darwin has to start somewhere (and if the book is about the transfer of wealth and power across Eurasia, detailing the rise of fall of empires attempting to assert their influence over most of the landmass then why not start with Alexander the Great, Rome, or even Genghis Kahn? Granted adding on another 500+ years of Eurasian history may have been completely impractical.) but it does seem that while attempting to show the non-European side of the picture of the various Eurasian empires, the book starts out at a time when the Europeans started to move beyond Europe and created their first empires in the Americas (the downfall of the various South American empires seems to get little mention compared to the loss of the Thirteen Colonies).

Regardless of these few, in my opinion, flaws, this work is an excellent study and well worth the read to provide one with a new appreciation for the various empires and cultures that existed across the continent and how they handled themselves and developed over six hundred years; in addition to painting a new, more balanced, picture of Europe's role in world history. Finally the book comes with an extensive bibliography and further reading list that is invaluable and an excellent resource.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Sublime Language, 1 Jun 2014
I am now rereading John Darwin's book 'After Tamerlane' for the third time. A rich and deep sweep of history carefully timed before Columbus "discovered" America and up to modern times from an empire perspective. Why read and reread - simply the use of language is sublime, every sentence a construct of import and purpose. Tellingly, John Darwin uses the exact word, with the right meaning in the correct place to convey what needs to be said at that moment, and if you have to go and look up that word - so be it. Consequently I have my smart phone dictionary app at the ready and my vocabulary has been expanded, and I would like to think I was already well read before hand.
This book is beautifully written, by the looks of it a life time's worth of focussed knowledge, enthusiastically and passionately told.
Come and jump in, be swept along the tides of history, gain an appreciation for the larger picture as empires wax and wane, be astonished at how fragile world encroachment from the West was at almost all of its stages to finally reach a place of dominance, and delight in the words, sentences and language used to pull the whole construct together - jump in the water's warm!
If my house was on fire and I could only save one book as I ran out the door - or I had to be stuck on a desert island with a bunch of pages between two covers - 'After Tamerlane' would be it - this is not just nourishment for the mind, ready yourself for a banquet, read this and be enriched, pass this by and your life, your thinking, your language will be the poorer.
Five stars - hardly does this book true justice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A very good textbook, 28 April 2014
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This review is from: After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400-2000 (Paperback)
Well written historical authority on empires situated across the world.
Ideal as a primer for students moving onto undergraduate history studies
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great read, 15 Mar 2014
This review is from: After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400-2000 (Paperback)
This book was recommended for further reading as part of my history degree. I found it very useful and have used it for more than one piece of work. Would highly recommend to others.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic Read, 10 Mar 2014
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This review is from: After Tamerlane: The Rise and Fall of Global Empires, 1400-2000 (Paperback)
I really do recommend this book. I used it in a recent dissertation and it's a very insightful piece of writing into the connections between the empires of the West and the East.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a very balanced view of empire,Must read book, 27 Jan 2014
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This is the best book that gives an over view of Empires,without the vice or virtues and of the antagonistic debate which is now destroying any legitimate balanced debate on the subject.
Reading this book will inform the reader that the colonial project was blind and unpredictable,good and bad things were done.Reading this book will give you a good grounding in historical facts,and give you a better understanding of global events,as you will be able to put them in a historical context.
I am surprised at the poor star ratings from other reviewers,as some one who has studied international politics and history,this book is required reading on my course,as it gives a good grounding on the subject.John Darwin has done a excellent job.
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