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Atlantic History: Concept and Contours.



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Bernard Bailyn Atlantic History Concept and Contours Cambridge Harvard University Press 2005 Timothy Coates History Department The College of Charleston coates cofc edu Professor Bailyn a distinguished historian of colonial America at Harvard University has written an eloquent and succinct overview of his vision of the Atlantic world After organizing and directing a series of seminars on Atlantic history Professor Bailyn pauses to look back first at the general concept of Atlantic history what that phrase has meant to various people over time and second at the Atlantic s contours or how the Atlantic world has changed over the centuries The work is a stimulating essay and the product of many years of reflection It is also a work that will interest undergraduates as well as scholars working in this field The Atlantic history seminars directed by Professor Bailyn were in their first years limited in scope to those regions that would later become part of the United States Professor Bailyn s Atlantic is thus profoundly British and very northern In a nutshell this is the work s major problem While expressly stating that Atlantic history is greater than the sum of its parts as much Spanish as British as much Dutch as Portuguese as much African as American p 60 Professor Bailyn really focuses on one British or Anglo American dimension over the course of the eighteenth century Whenever he gives examples he turns to British North America occasionally mentioning Spain and its empire Unfortunately the work does not have a bibliography just a very unsatisfactory listing of sources in its endnotes Looking through these the reader can clearly see Professor Bailyn s preference for the eighteenth century in general and British North America in particular The sources listed are overwhelmingly in English with a couple of French and Spanish works cited as well Notably absent in a work of this scope are any Portuguese language sources It should not come as a surprise to the reader that



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