One of France's foremost post-war historians and an authority on the Mediterranean world of the 16th century, Fernand Braudel was surprised, but immediately tempted, when he was asked to write on the region's ancient history. But, believing that "history cannot really be understood unless it is extended to cover the entire human past", he seized the opportunity to take "a fabulous journey" back through time. The result is a work which takes the reader all over the Mediterranean from prehistory to the Roman conquest. Braudel's approach is informed at every step by the idea of continuity - of the past and the present forming an indivisible whole. Equally crucial is an understanding of the way in which the physical landscape has shaped cultural and political achievement across the millennia. As with physical geography, so too with nomadism, agriculture, trade, politics and religion. Thus a development in some epoch of prehistory reminds the author of an identical moment in the history of Genoa in the 16th century, or Venice in the 17th. In exploring the fluctuating development of these ancient civilizations, whether in Mesopotamia or Tuscany, Braudel is constantly aware of new departures, a revolutionary moment which carries through time: the invention of the Phoenecian alphabet which made trade more practical or the emergence of the Roman republic. At the same time he offers a fresh perspective on the achievements of those giants of the ancient world, Greece and Rome, seeing their stunning accomplishments in arts and technology not as unique flowerings, but the results of a process which preceded them. Illuminating, authoritative and also very readable, "The Mediterranean in the Ancient World" reveals Braudel's ability to convey the vivid detail of history as well as the grand panorama. His insights, his curiosity and his acute courage, enterprise and daring of the long forgotten humanity on which our own civilization rests. As we read these pages and "see the megaliths, the pyramids, the Greek temples and basilicas outlined against the clear blue sky" we are "shown the image of a past which is ever present".
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Fernand Braudel was France's foremost post-war historian. He is best known for The Mediterranean in the Time of Philip II, Civilization and Capitalism and The Identity of France. This will be Braudel's final major posthumous publication. Sian Reynolds has translated all the great Braudel books published in English. She is recognised as one of the leading translators of French on either side of the Atlantic.Language Notes:
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French
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