Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century (Paperback)
  • Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century (Paperback)

Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century (Paperback)

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Paperback 904 Pages
Published: 15/08/2014
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How to account for decades of worldwide war, revolution, and human suffering in the seventeenth century? A master historian uncovers the disturbing answer.

Revolutions, droughts, famines, invasions, wars, regicides - the calamities of the mid-seventeenth century were not only unprecedented, they were agonisingly widespread. A global crisis extended from England to Japan, and from the Russian Empire to sub-Saharan Africa. North and South America, too, suffered turbulence. The distinguished historian Geoffrey Parker examines first-hand accounts of men and women throughout the world describing what they saw and suffered during a sequence of political, economic and social crises that stretched from 1618 to the 1680s. Parker also deploys scientific evidence concerning climate conditions of the period, and his use of 'natural' as well as 'human' archives transforms our understanding of the World Crisis. Changes in the prevailing weather patterns during the 1640s and 1650s - longer and harsher winters, and cooler and wetter summers - disrupted growing seasons, causing dearth, malnutrition, and disease, along with more deaths and fewer births. Some contemporaries estimated that one-third of the world died, and much of the surviving historical evidence supports their pessimism.

Parker's demonstration of the link between climate change and worldwide catastrophe 350 years ago stands as an extraordinary historical achievement. And the contemporary implications of his study are equally important: are we at all prepared today for the catastrophes that climate change could bring tomorrow?

Publisher: Yale University Press
ISBN: 9780300208634
Number of pages: 904
Weight: 1406 g
Dimensions: 235 x 156 x 5 mm

"One of the books I found most informative and most perversely enjoyable this year is Geoffrey Parker's Global Crisis: War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century. It deserves, and rewards, careful reading."- Jane Smiley, Harper's

"It is rare that one reads a history book so compelling and so stimulating that one forgets to eat, but that was my experience with Geoffrey Parker's magnificent Global Crisis, a magisterial, near 900-page study of the world in the 17th century that centres on the relationship between climate and human conflict."-Paul Lay, History Today

"Mr. Parker tells [the story] with verve. . . . [his] novel interpretation, emphasizing climate instead of individual agency, helps to explain socio-economic change and revolution in ways that future historians will inevitably have to take into account."-Wall Street Journal

"The author sets out to examine a century in which weather patterns radically altered and political, social and economic crises seemed to engulf every part of the world. What relationship does a changing climate bear to global stability? There could scarcely be a more timely question to ask. Parker deploys a dazzling breadth of scholarship in answering it."-Dan Jones, Times

"In his monumental new book . . . Parker's approach is systematic and painstaking . . . giv[ing] us a rich and emotionally intense sense of how it felt to live through chaotic times."-Lisa Jardine, Financial Times

"Global Crisis is a magnum opus that will remain a touchstone in three areas for at least a generation: the history of the entire globe, the role of climate in history, and the identification of a major historical crisis in the seventeenth century. . . . Wide-ranging, monumental works of history are rare; this is one of them."-Theodore K. Rabb, Times Literary Supplement

"In this vast, superbly researched and utterly engrossing book, Parker shows how climate change pushed the world towards chaos. . . . Parker's book is not merely powerful and convincing, it is a monument to scholarly dedication."-Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times

"[A] milestone in our understanding of early modern history."-Theodore K. Rabb, Times Literary Supplement

"[A] staggeringly researched, rivetingly written and intellectually dazzling book. . . . I expect it to be read and debated for decades to come."-Sunday Times

"A work of formidable erudition and scope from a renowned British authority on early modern history."-Financial Times

"My big book of the year has been Geoffrey Parker's Global Crisis on the disastrous war-torn 17th century. It fills in gaps, gives different perspectives-not least on Scotland during the Civil War-and opens new areas of history to explore."-Catriona Graham, The Guardian

"Enormous research efforts have gone into the writing of this book, an incisive analysis of historical and climatological events during the seventeenth century. . . This is a fascinating book that every politician and bureaucrat should read to see in past mistakes things that must be avoided."-Madra Sivaraman, Environmental Studies

"By exploring the impact of those extreme weather events which accompanied the Little Ice Age-and by the remarkable industry of his researches (his bibliography and list of sources run to nearly 150 pages)-he has added a whole new dimension to our understanding of that near-universal 'time of crisis.' . . . This is indeed a superb and harrowing book, well worth reading for the skill with which Parker summarizes the history of pretty well all the world."-Christopher Booker, Asian Age

"Global Crisis is the production of a scholar . . . who has reflected on what he knows long enough to take on the double task of synthesis and breakthrough. . . . Parker regales the reader with some wild and grim tales, interleaved with thoughtful reflections from those who lived through the crises. A more genial geode to disaster one couldn't hope to find. We shall need more of these in the future."-Timothy Brook, Literary Review

"[T]his monumental work by the distinguished historian Geoffrey Parker . . . is a formidable piece of scholarship that goes beyond it's evident grand scale and ambition as a work of synthesis. . . . This book is scholarly and readable, bursting with fully documented examples and authoritative coverage of a vast swathe of 17th-century history, written on a broad canvas but accessible and compelling. It represents a worthy distillation of several decades of Parker's scholarship, and should provide food for thought for academic historians and interested readers alike."-Penny Roberts, BBC History Magazine

"This is indeed a superb and harrowing book, well worth reading for the skill with which Parker summarises the history of pretty well the whole world . . . a fascinating contribution to history."-Christopher Booker, Spectator

"Its subject is huge, sprawling, all-encompassing and there is an almost reckless ambition about its purpose. It is a big book. It is also a brilliant one, but it requires attention, time and thought. . . . This history is told with a sustained gusto by Parker but . . . it is the contemporary significance of the book that is truly breathtaking."-Hugh MacDonald, Sunday Herald

"Geoffrey Parker has secured an enviable reputation as one of the leading historians of early modern Europe. He has decided to branch out and the results are spectacular. The ambition of his new book is astonishing and the range of research is almost impossible to believe."-Jonathan Wright, Geographical

"Global Crisis is one of those books that appear once in a generation and define the field."-Daniel Headrick, Journal of World History

"A towering achievement of erudition, scholarship, graceful style, and wisdom . . . That a single individual, so accomplished within the conventional western European framework, chose to range out beyond it so inclusively is visionary."-Joseph C. Miller, Journal of World History
Winner of one of the 2012 Heineken Prizes
Sunday Times History Book of the Year 2013

Selected as a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2013 in the History, Geography, & Area Studies Category

Received an Honorable Mention for the 2013 American Publishers Awards for Professional and Scholarly Excellence (PROSE), in the European & World History category

Winner of the Society for Military History 2014 Distinguished Book Award for the best book-length publication in English on non-United States military history

"Geoffrey Parker's Global Crisis is at once a revelation and a provocation. By examining a period of unusual climatic perturbation Parker helps us better understand our own era of climate change. Few indeed are the works of history that are so urgently relevant to the present and the future."-Amitav Ghosh, author of The Great Derangement

"Geoffrey Parker has deployed the human archive for climate change during the seventeenth century in a masterly synthesis of history and paleoclimatology that helps us redefine the impact of the Little Ice Age on humanity. The Global Crisis is a beautifully written, masterly work of multidisciplinary history, which draws on an amazing range of sources. Parker's work opens up exciting new avenues for historical inquiry and has direct relevance to today's debates over climate change and humanity."-Brian Fagan, Emeritus Professor of Anthropology, University of California, Santa Barbara, and author of The Little Ice Age

"Geoffrey Parker's Global Crisis is an extraordinarily ambitious attempt to write world history "from the bottom up". Based on long decades of work, and eschewing the facile solution of just drawing on secondary literature, Parker once more shows his grasp of varied archives and texts for which he is celebrated. He draws them together around a complex yet powerful thesis linking climate, military power and political change in the seventeenth century. Learned and argumentative, yet written with subtlety, wit and panache, his book will set the bar for the next generation of students and scholars who want to write history on this scale."-Sanjay Subrahmanyam, University of California at Los Angeles

"Parker has given us the most profound and global account of the pivotal seventeenth century, from its revolutions and rebellions to scientific and constitutional breakthroughs. As we enter a new era of global climate change, this gripping book provides a wondrous portrait of a similar age and a stern warning."-Jack A. Goldstone, author of Why Europe? The Rise of the West in World History 1500-1850

"A world-altering force [that] has been emerging, one larger, more devastating, and more definitive than the any other 'turn' in recent historiography: 'I speak of climate change-or climate collapse-and all of its related global transformations.'"-Julia Adeney Thomas, American Historical Review

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“Super read..packed with information”

Densely packed with information/data, but written in such a manner as to not overwhelm the reader. Not a dry read (as history sometimes can be). I would have preferred the plates to be scattered through the text and... More

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