A Vermeer painting shows a military officer in a Dutch sitting room, talking to a laughing girl. In another canvas, fruit spills from a blue-and-white porcelain bowl. Familiar images that captivate us with their beauty--but as Timothy Brook shows us, these intimate pictures actually give us a remarkable view of an expanding world. The officer's dashing hat is made of beaver fur from North America, and it was beaver pelts from America that financed the voyages of explorers seeking routes to China-prized for the porcelains so often shown in Dutch paintings of this time, including Vermeer's.
In this dazzling history, Timothy Brook uses Vermeer's works, and other contemporary images from Europe, Asia, and the Americas to trace the rapidly growing web of global trade, and the explosive, transforming, and sometimes destructive changes it wrought in the age when globalization really began.
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A wonderful book
For me, yes; reading is more strenuous for me than listening, and I can listen while walking and doing all sorts of things, as well as lying in bed with my eyes closed.
No. He is a fine reader. He is energetic and seems interested. The pronunciation of Chinese names is poor but I suppose it is too much to expect readers to learn the pinyin system (but then, why not?). European names are for the most part well pronounced.
This is a book for everyone who loves Vermeer, and a great starting point for those not yet familiar with his paintings. It draws together things in a fascinating way (among others, the rise and fall of Dutch painting, the decisive role South American silver played in the fate of Europe and China, the rivalry between different European countries and how it played out at sea, the story of tobacco in Europe and Asia, the use and fabrication of porcelain in Europe, Chinese vs. European cartography ). I listened to the book almost in one sitting... in any case in one day. Didn't want to stop. By the way, do not be put off by the lack of illustrations. The Vermeer paintings are so well known that their images can easily be found (of course you will then have to go and see the paintings themselves, which is something to look forward to in itself).
A wonderful portrayal of our history