Reformation, Renaissance, and Forty Years That Shook the World.
Patrick Wyman has the kind of deft you hope for when reading about such a consequential time in history. Indeed, his main contention is that these bombastic forty years saw the rise of systems that influence and contextualize our lives up to the present moment. Topics cover everything from the formation of dynastic states like that of Spain, the development of modern European debt and trust, the importance of Tyrolean silver, the extensive nature of war and conflict in late medieval society, and much more. Despite the depth, there is no shortage of readability. The author is an expert, and it shows on every page. With an engaging voice and sense of humor, faced with a life-and-death situation.
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The Verge is a short and very readable account of an early phase in the rise of modern Europe, from 1490 to 1530 or so. Wyman has selected a cast of characters including Columbus, Ferdinand and Isabella, Martin Luther, the banker Jacob Fugger, various printers, Emperor Charles V and Suleyman the magnificent; and he uses their stories to weave a story of how the foundations of modern Europe (and by extension, of modernity itself) were laid by the fortuitous intersection of many small and big changes.
“The book itself is a fascinating look at four decades during the renaissance which shaped much of European economy, trade, and business.”The Book Guide® Editor
The invention of printing, the rise of modern finance, the rise of professional military men, the reformation, all played a role in creating the modern states of Western Europe; states that soon outclassed all competitors and eventually dominated the entire globe.
If there is one factor that gets star billing in this book, it is the financial innovations that allowed Western European monarchies to tap more capital in more innovative ways, but the whole point is that no one magic factor drove the great divergence; many different factors came together to set the stage for it.
The book is very well written and Wyman has an eye for interesting anecdotes and factoids that keep the reader engaged and interested. Well worth a read.
The Verge (2021) By: Patrick WymanDune (2007) By: Glennon Doyle
by The Book Guide® Editors4.5/5 Very good