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Conquerors tells the almost forgotten story of how Portugal's navigators cracked the code of the Atlantic winds, launched the expedition of Vasco da Gama to India, and beat the Spanish to the spice kingdoms of the East - then set about creating the first long-range maritime empire. In an astonishing blitz of 30 years, a handful of visionary empire builders, with few resources but breathtaking ambition, attempted to seize the Indian Ocean, destroy Islam, and take control of world trade. This is history at its most vivid - an epic tale of navigation, trade and technology, money and religious zealotry, political diplomacy and espionage, sea battles and shipwrecks, endurance, courage, and terrifying brutality. Drawing on extensive firsthand accounts, it brings to life the exploits of an extraordinary band of conquerors - men such as Afonso de Albuquerque, the first European since Alexander the Great to found an Asian empire - who set in motion the forces of globalization.
Portugal was the imperial pathfinder, the template for a wave of successors. Its empire connected the world and created a framework for profound interactions. It left a huge and long-lasting influence on the culture, food, flora, art, history, and languages of the globe. It marked the start of 500 years of domination by the West, which is only reversing now.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By peter on 12-18-15
Awesome story that is not covered in the average History class in school. Doesn't take sides and presents the good and bad of both conquered and conquerer. Reader was engaging and since he had excellent material to work with the overall rating is very high.
8 of 8 people found this review helpful
By Kindle Customer on 05-08-16
This is a story only vaguely known of in the West, and largely through the residual traces of Portuguese rule in places like Malacca, Goa and Mombassa.
A complex period of history is summarized clearly but without oversimplification, and like all of Crowley's books reads like a good novel. What is most admirable is his ability to imagine himself in the moment and to avoid the easy judgments of liberal 21st century anti-colonialist outrage. What the Portuguese did was outrageous by any modern yardstick, but Crowley allows the story to tell itself and for the reader to understand the actions of those conquerors, and of their enemies, with reference to the morality of that distant time.
A tremendous achievement; a great read.
6 of 6 people found this review helpful