Cover: Atlantic History: Concept and Contours, from Harvard University PressCover: Atlantic History in HARDCOVER

Atlantic History

Concept and Contours

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Product Details


$24.00 • £19.95 • €21.50

ISBN 9780674016880

Publication Date: 03/31/2005


160 pages

5 x 7-1/2 inches


In part thanks to Bailyn’s advocacy, inspiration, and entrepreneurship, the richness and popularity of Atlantic history have burgeoned astonishingly… Bailyn’s purpose in his short and invaluable Atlantic History is to trace and celebrate the evolution of Atlantic history as an idea, and to set out his personal interpretation of its main contours in the period between the earliest European invasions of the Americas and the American Revolution.—Linda Colley, The New York Review of Books

[Atlantic History] will provoke and inspire future work in the field because it poses all the right questions: What is a civilization? What are the phenomena that tie it together? How do the participants in its making perceive it? …Perhaps the largest theme of Atlantic History is the story of how this boisterous economy stimulated thinking along liberal conceptions of individual rights and the abolition of human bondage.—Hans L. Eicholz, Claremont Review of Books

[Bailyn’s] Atlantic is a transnational and international vision of admirable, even intimidating, range… [Although] Bailyn’s method and findings will not find universal agreement, they deserve universal respect. It is a formal and methodological virtue of this style of writing that it provides material with which others can work: those of more Francophone sensibility will find here much that is ‘good to think with’; fellow empiricists will find that there is much matter in it. For that, and much else, all of us interested in the Atlantic owe Bailyn a huge debt of gratitude.—Michael Braddick, History Transnational

This might be one of the shorter books published by Bernard Bailyn in his long and productive career, but it promises to be one of his more influential… Atlantic History delineates a vast research agenda that calls for attention…and it also provides evidence, deriving from his own research and reflection, of just how fruitful the outcomes will be for those willing to pursue the lines and methods he suggests.—Nicholas Canny, International Journal of Maritime History

This work is more than a genealogy of a concept; it is a deep meditation on the nature of historical inquiry. While acknowledging the influence of public discourse, especially during the formative post–World War II period, Bailyn again and again asserts an inherent internal logic, based on ‘reasons that lay deep in historical thinking’ as the source and motive for early explorations in Atlantic history… We are in Bailyn’s debt as perhaps the foremost proponent of Atlantic history. Through his own work and his annual ‘International Seminar on the History of the Atlantic World, 1500–1825’ at Harvard beginning in 1995, he has trained a generation and more of young historians who account for much of the excitement and vitality in the field today.—Phyllis Whitman Hunter, Itinerario: International Journal on the History of European Expansion and Global Interaction, 2006

Bailyn’s new book is…typically elegant and stylish and is intended to shape this amorphous new field by showing where Atlantic history came from and by advancing a theoretical apparatus within which Atlantic scholars should work… He brilliantly and concisely distils his past statements on how Atlantic history developed… He manages to do one of the hardest things a historian can do—describe the process by which a multitudinous world in motion came together around common themes—with skill and economy. He does much, in short, to bring order out of chaos and shows how we might begin to have a clear definition of a complex but very exciting historical subject. Once more, as so often in the past, we are in his debt.—Trevor Burnard, Journal of American Studies

As Bernard Bailyn describes in the opening pages of his most recent book, Atlantic history has rapidly become a popular and significant field within the broader discipline of history… Now, from his vantage point as one of the leading figures in this field, Bailyn has written a valedictory examination of its development and major issues. Atlantic History: Concept and Contours will serve current and future historians as both an effective introduction to the field and an advanced exploration of its historiography. As is the case with Bailyn’s many other books, Atlantic History is written in a clear and concise fashion… Regardless of the reader’s level of experience, it will be an enjoyable and fascinating exploration of a global perspective on the Atlantic world. Like so much of his scholarship, Bernard Bailyn’s most recent book is certain to find a place of prominence on required reading lists and professors’ bookshelves. I join with others in recommending it to readers.—William E. Doody, Journal of World History

Awards & Accolades

  • Bernard Bailyn Is a 2010 National Humanities Medal Winner
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