Saturday, April 18, 2020

NetGalley ARC | The Year 1000: When Explorers Connected the World - and Globalization Began


I received a free digital ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review

Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Typically the topics of business and globalization of said businesses is dreadfully boring to me and I don't care. That is still true, except for when we are talking about said topics in relation to how they occurred in one of my most favorite periods to read about.

The one thing I truly disagree with is the author's semi-assertion that anyone still believes that the Vikings got no further than Britain before 1,000. It is fairly common knowledge now that this is, in fact, not true. We know they traveled much farther, reaching what is now Canada. She also makes references to how it is still believed that there were not major cultural developments in Europe prior to that, and all we have to do is look to Ireland's history to see this thought too is already accepted as being false. Quite a lot was actually happening in those so-called "Dark Ages". Otherwise, I enjoyed this book.

One of the highlights of this book for me is the idea that perhaps the Vikings got even farther than we have imagined - perhaps far enough to encounter the Mayan people. She discusses the existence of blond-haired people gracing the murals in the temple at Chichen Itza. Could the Vikings really have gotten as far as Mexico? Wouldn't that be an amazing discovery that we could actually find evidence to prove? Honestly, it would not surprise me if this truly happened. The Vikings were quite determined and driven. Who knows where else they might have gone, and what evidence we may find of those journeys in the future.

The book remains accessible as a popular history despite the obvious fact that many years of research went into the content and cultures explored here. We are privy to all the developments in technology that allowed for the cultures to collide, as well as the sweeping spread of religions far and wide. She makes a great point that at that time, all of these cultures were pretty equal in terms of the weaponry/warfare technology they possessed. This would obviously not be the case less than 500 years later when Europeans would once again return to North America in waves, this time capturing, subjugating, and exterminating hundreds of thousands of the native populations.

Now, certainly globalization to us and globalization then looked far different. But the case is made, and stands I believe, that this first round certainly paved the way for our world to become what it is today, for all the positives and negatives that includes. We are taken on a whirlwind trip crossing five continents, yet nothing felt rushed or glossed over. The narrative was also not bogged down with a boring slew of fact, fact, fact.

I quite appreciated the look at the travels of the Rus, into what would eventually become Russia, and find this culture particularly curious, as I feel like Eastern Europe is never quite as fully given its due as Western Europe is. I am especially intrigued by how Russia came to be, and it's development in this period on. Much like I find with most European history though, my interest wanes by the 16th/17th century - unless we are talking about the last of the Romanovs.

There is much to appreciate here. The author writes in an engaging way and does an excellent job giving the reader a feel for the place and time in each location as we jet from one location to the next. I never felt like anything was unclear, and places remained distinct despite the many cultures examined.



  1. thoughtful and interesting post. i read a book several years ago that purported to identify an early fifteenth c. Chinese settlement on an island off of Nova Scotia. photos were provided and it appeared to be an old logging road to me... later i read that the author was in the final stages of some sort of cancer when he wrote the book and was probably not totally present... i looked for the book several months later but it was no longer in the stacks...

    1. Thank you! Do you remember the author's name or the book title? It would be interesting to see his evidence. I can't imagine anyone traveling that far at the time, but who knows!

    2. i wish i did but it was a while back...

    3. Drat. I will have to do a bit of searching. That theory is super intriguing.

    4. 2 I could find:

      Gavin Menzies - 1421: The Year China Discovered the World (which I have a copy of) and
      Paul Chiasson - The Island of the Seven Cities: Where the Chinese Settled when they Discovered America

      Although both books seem to be dismissed as based on pseudo-science.....

    5. I figured as much, if MP had not been able to find them later. I think it would be interesting to find out what they thought was 'evidence'.

      I have heard of the Gavin Menzies one, and it is actually addressed in this book also. When I went to look at my to-read shelf on Goodreads I saw I had a book by him about Atlantis, which I quickly removed. Perhaps the other book was the one MP found?

  2. I'm definitely ignoring ancient history ATM... I need to address that at some point [muses]

  3. Wait, is the author actually asserting that the Vikings didn't make it to Newfoundland? There's pretty much no doubt about that these days, I thought!

    1. No, she wrote in a way that made it seem she thinks people don't believe the Vikings got that far and that SHE is the pointing out that they did in fact get at least to Canada, if not further. It was a bit confusing to me because she was definitely not providing new information in that regard.

  4. Replies
    1. And it never hurts when there are Vikings in the story. I wish I had a time machine to go back and see the world in the year 1000, it is one of my most favorite periods.


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