“My bounty is as boundless as the sea.” (Romeo & Juliet, II, ii).
For most of human history, the seas and oceans have been the main means of long-distance trade and communication between peoples – for the spread of ideas and religion as well as commerce. David Abulafia traces the history of human movement and interaction around and across the world’s greatest bodies of water, charting our relationship with the oceans from the time of the first voyagers. The main protagonists – the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian – comprise the majority of the earth’s water and cover over half of its surface. As passage over them gradually extended, the economies and cultures of Africa, Europe, Asia and the Americas intertwined.
The Boundless Sea shows how maritime networks came to form a continuum of interaction and interconnection across the globe: 90 per cent of global trade is still conducted by sea. This is history of the grandest scale and scope, and from a bracingly different perspective – not, as in most global histories, from the land, but from the boundless seas. David Abulafia has written a titanic history of the three great oceans – the Atlantic, the Pacific and the Indian – and of mankind’s relationship with the sea from the first voyagers to the present day.