Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants

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9780674724839: Crossing the Bay of Bengal: The Furies of Nature and the Fortunes of Migrants

The highlight of this book is the way Amrith introduces the bay s early trade routes and encourages further reading into its ancient civilizations--from the medieval Hindu-Buddhist Srivijaya empire of Sumatra, who ruled much of Southeast Asia, to the powerful Chola (southern India) dynasty s thriving China trade. Such accounts reveal vibrant East-meets-West business communities where Arab, Indian and, later, European ships moored alongside Chinese junks for cloth, spices, opium and Mexican silver. Amrith brings these images to life with clear maps and thoughtful research, such as the observations of Portuguese apothecary Tome Pires, who noted 84 languages from the Middle East to China in early 16th-century Melaka. Equally engaging is the way Amrith portrays traders study of the bay s monsoons, and how they intermarried with locals from across the bay to create hybrid cultures and architecture that embraced multiple beliefs and traditions.--William Wadsworth"South China Morning Post" (10/20/2013)"


Despite its many familial, religious, and commercial linkages, perhaps because of its lack of a unifying political structure the region has too often been pushed into the shadows The author weaves a richly vivid tapestry of a vast movement of people, principally South Indian laborers, sailing eastward across the bay to Burma, Malaysia, and Singapore Rising sea levels are making new geographical patterns to which the low coastal lands of the Bay of Bengal are especially susceptible. Amrith remarks that the ocean has changed more in the last 30 years than in all of human history Substantive and gracefully written.--J. C. Perry"Choice" (03/01/2014)"

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