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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction


Global Crisis

Geoffrey Parker

[an overview of the reviews and critical reactions]

general information | review summaries | links | about the author

To purchase X

Title: Global Crisis
Author: Geoffrey Parker
Genre: Non-fiction
Written: 2013
Length: 728 pages
Availability: Global Crisis - US
Global Crisis - UK
Global Crisis - Canada
Global Crisis - India
  • War, Climate Change and Catastrophe in the Seventeenth Century

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Why we haven't reviewed it yet:

Not quite sure how to go about it -- massive, detailed, fascinating historical analysis, but hard to 'review'

Chances that we will review it:

Possibly; certainly deserves more attention

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Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
The Australian A 12/10/2013 Patricia Anderson
Financial Times . 26/4/2013 Lisa Jardine
Foreign Affairs . 3-4/2014 Deborah R. Coen
J. of Interdiscipl. History . Winter/2014 Jan de Vries
Sunday Times . 24/3/2013 Dominic Sandbrook
The Spectator A 1/6/2013 Christopher Booker
TLS A 17/5/2013 Theodore K. Rabb
Wall St. Journal . 1/6/2013 Brendan Sims

  Review Consensus:

  Generally very, very impressed, consider it a very significant book

  From the Reviews:
  • "This book about the 17th century is one everyone should read with their eyes firmly fixed on the present and the future -- and the short-sightedness of governments across the globe." - Patricia Anderson, The Australian

  • "Parkerís approach is systematic and painstaking. Scouring and correlating first-hand testimony drawn from sources chronicling 17th-century affairs from London to Beijing, he pieces together a global tale of worsening weather conditions leading to hardship, administrative chaos, war and widespread inhumanity. These accounts give us a rich and emotionally intense sense of how it felt to live through chaotic times. (...) I think it matters that the purpose of the almost overwhelming bulk of evidence that Parker has assembled in this impressive new book is designed to be the last word in the "general crisis" debate. Parkerís 2008 version of his argument ran to 24 pages. It now extends to 900 pages, including one of the most formidable bibliographies of works consulted I have ever encountered." - Lisa Jardine, Financial Times

  • "A more fundamental problem with the bookís argument emerges in the epilogue, where Parker considers the present-day implications of this history. (...) Concerted international efforts, rather than isolation, are needed today to avoid or minimize catastrophes of the kind that Parker so skillfully portrays. Yet Parker insists on separating the question of the cause of global warming from the question of how to respond to it. He urges the use of technical ingenuity to protect against disasters but says nothing of alternative energy technologies that could help limit the greenhouse effect. He would have readers believe that climate change today is fundamentally the same phenomenon it was in the seventeenth century: a natural and inevitable check on population growth." - Deborah R. Coen, Foreign Affairs

  • "By adding the vagaries of the weather to the overall equation, Parker is not suggesting that these were the cause of the general catastrophe. But what he does show for the first time, with his wealth of evidence drawn from thousands of sources, is how the climate seriously aggravated the effects of all those wars and other disorders which made the 17th century such a peculiarly cruel time to be alive (.....) This is indeed a superb and harrowing book, well worth reading for the skill with which Parker summarises the history of pretty well all the world (.....) My only real quibble is with the closing attempt to link the extreme weather events of that age with the fear of climate change which has become so fashionable in our own time" - Christopher Booker, The Spectator

  • "It is going to be very difficult, once Parker's magisterial narratives have been absorbed, to remain sceptical about the General Crisis as a basic divide in the history of the past millennium. (...) One would want to refer students to the bibliography alone as an introduction to the field (.....) Any work that takes on such a huge range of subjects is bound to provoke reservations. (...) But one needs to emphasize how minor such lapses are within so colossal an achievement. One has to hope, therefore, that the book's size will not deter readers." - Theodore K. Rabb, Times Literary Supplement

  • "This is a grim story, but Mr. Parker tells it with verve. His 700 pages of densely printed text require stamina, but the reading is eased by enlivening narrative snapshots and a global cast of remarkable characters. (...) Mr. Parker's focus on climatic factors, and the resulting social pressures, can seem a bit deterministic as the examples pile up to the exclusion of other kinds of analysis. In particular, Mr. Parker -- perhaps because he has written about them so fully elsewhere -- neglects the ripples that emanated out from the Thirty Years' War and that explain the course of events more persuasively than wet weather and frost." - Brendan Sims, Wall Street Journal

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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Global Crisis: Reviews: Geoffrey Parker:

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About the Author:

       British historian Geoffrey Parker was born in 1943. He teaches at Ohio State.

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© 2014 the complete review

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