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Empires in World History: Power and the Politics of Difference
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 October 2013
The term "empire" alone, with its suggestions of romance and earthshaking battles, will attract some readers to this book. They will not be disappointed; the story it tells is a rich and fascinating one. This study examines empires over time and space, and in the process gives us a fresh and insightful look at world history.

Readers will discover that despite their common traits, empires are all unique, often in surprising ways. Authors Burbank and Cooper study the extension of power over both land and sea. They devote much attention to how empires attempt to govern different ethnicities, different nations, sometimes by assimilation and equalization, other times by preservation and protection of differences.

The authors do not see empires as leading inevitably to nation-states; sometimes the reverse is true. One empire may evolve into another, or into more than one. The old Roman Empire, for example, became two "Romes," and out of the eastern one developed the Byzantine Empire, one of the longest-lasting in history. Some empires are mobile: The nomadic Mongols built a vast political system in Eurasia, which, though short-lived, transformed many lands and contributed to subsequent governing systems built by the Ottomans, Russians, Chinese and Mughals of India.

Elsewhere in the book, the authors suggest the European empire-builders of the 15th and 16th centuries might be viewed as the "Mongols of the sea" because of their mobility, their skill at concentrating resources, and their adept use of appropriate military technology. The authors also explore how empires interact with and vie with each other, militarily and in terms of trade.

Example: the (Spanish-focused) Holy Roman Empire of Charles V and the Ottoman Empire of Suleiman the Magnificent. These two empires, built on the western and eastern remnants of the old Roman Empire, respectively, were dramatically different in structure and focus. Charles sought to impose social and religious uniformity on the populations he controlled, and built an economy based on state monopoly. Suleiman, by contrast, protected the diverse religious and ethnic communities of the former Byzantine realm, and promoted a decentralized imperial economy built of multiple trade networks. In its glory days, the Ottoman Empire was a far cry from its later portrayal as the "sick man of Europe."

[A version of this review appeared in the March/April 2013 issue of Saudi Aramco World magazine.]
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 January 2014
It may be full of information but it is lacking in vivid description. It is repetitive in its themes about the difficulties facing empires and the reasons for their demise. It holds your attention at times but not for long as it trudges down the same path for another empire. Why on earth did this win a prize?
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 18 July 2012
The best political history of empire I have come across so far. It is cogent, well-written and covers all major imperial endeavors across Eurasia over the last 2.400 years.Though not overburden by theory it is historiographically sofisticated and on top of the scholarly literature. Highly recommended
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on 5 January 2015
I bought this for my current OU module as the reviews were good, even though it was a bit expensive. Having started to dip into it, I am so pleased to have bought it. It is clearly set out and easy to read; it's proving extremely useful and interesting. I've already referenced it in my recent essay and I can see, I'll be referencing it regularly.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 February 2013
Fantastic quality of book and quality book in general by Cooper and Burbank. Very helpful for Empiricist learning in history and useful for creating historical inter connections.
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on 11 September 2014
Very detailed.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 6 July 2014
Wonderful value,excellent condition for a used book,quick delivery.Cant wait to use it from Sept in my degree,opened immedietly and started reading.
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