From the author of 1491—the best-selling study of the pre-Columbian Americas—a deeply engaging new history of the most momentous biological event since the death of the dinosaurs. More than 200 million years ago, geological forces split apart the continents. Isolated from each other, the two halves of the world developed radically different suites of plants and animals. When Christopher Columbus set foot in the Americas, he ended that separation at a stroke. Driven by the economic goal of establishing trade with China, he accidentally set off an ecological convulsion as European vessels carried thousands of species to new homes across the oceans. The Columbian Exchange, as researchers call it, is the reason there are tomatoes in Italy, oranges in Florida, chocolates in Switzerland, and chili peppers in Thailand. More important, creatures the colonists knew nothing about hitched along for the ride. Earthworms, mosquitoes, and cockroaches; honeybees, dandelions, and African grasses; bacteria, fungi, and viruses; rats of every description—all of them rushed like eager tourists into lands that had never seen their like before, changing lives and landscapes across the planet. Eight decades after Columbus, a Spaniard named Legazpi succeeded where Columbus had failed. He sailed west to establish continual trade with China, then the richest, most powerful country in the world. In Manila, a city Legazpi founded, silver from the Americas, mined by African and Indian slaves, was sold to Asians in return for silk for Europeans. It was the first time that goods and people from every corner of the globe were connected in a single worldwide exchange. Much as Columbus created a new world biologically, Legazpi and the Spanish empire he served created a new world economically. As Charles C. Mann shows, the Columbian Exchange underlies much of subsequent human history. Presenting the latest research by ecologists, anthropologists, archaeologists, and historians, Mann shows how the creation of this worldwide network of ecological and economic exchange fostered the rise of Europe, devastated imperial China, convulsed Africa, and for two centuries made Mexico City—where Asia, Europe, and the new frontier of the Americas dynamically interacted—the center of the world. In such encounters, he uncovers the germ of today’s fiercest political disputes, from immigration to trade policy to culture wars. In 1493, Charles Mann gives us an eye-opening scientific interpretation of our past, unequaled in its authority and fascination. From the Hardcover edition.
Ajit Mookerjee is an expert in the traditional arts and crafts of his native country. After completing a post graduate course in Ancient Indian History and Culture at Culcutta University, he wrote his first book, Folk Art of Bengal. He then went to England for further studies at the University of London, where he received his M.A in History of Art. Since 1945 he has travelled widely both in India, Europe and the United States of America, carrying out research for his many publications and lecturing on the various aspects of the Indian arts.
French Tapestries and Textiles in the J Paul Getty Museum
French Tapestries and Textiles is a survey of the Getty Museum's seventeenth- and eighteenth-century French textiles—one of the world's finest collections. Featuring twenty-five extraordinary tapestries woven at the Gobelins and Beauvais manufactories, the catalogue also highlights three carpets, two knotted-pile screens, and two sets of embroidered bed hangings, one of which is the only complete lit à la duchesse surviving from the period. Among the magnificent textiles discussed in this lavish volume are the Emperor of China tapestry series, the whimsical Story of Don Quixote, and Boucher's cycle The Story of Psyche. A gatefold in the book opens to reveal a photograph of the stately twenty-nine-foot carpet commissioned for Louis XIV's Galerie du Bord de l'Eau at the Louvre, a piece never publicly displayed in this century. Each entry includes a listing of artists and weavers, date and place of manufacture, and materials and techniques used, followed by a complete description and a condition statement. The accompanying commentary provides information on the literary, historical, and visual source of design imagery as well as the context of the textile's commission and production. In addition, each textile shown has a complete provenance, exhibition history, and bibliography. For lovers of French decorative arts and connoisseurs of textiles, this book offers a study both of the art of tapestry- and textile-making and of the aesthetic tradition exemplified by these remarkable objects.