1492: The Year the World Began
These overstated subtitles have become a joke in publishing circles, and it’s to his credit that while he thinks 1492 was a pivotal year in world history Felipe Fernández-Armesto never tries to argue that it was the year the world began. In fact, this is a book that really says very little that is new. The major event of 1492 remains the inauguration of the Columbian exchange, with the expansion of European empire being the next big thing waiting in the wings. An attempt is made to provide a global perspective, but Europe is still the main focus. Meanwhile, wherever some revision is attempted – for example, in downplaying the Renaissance and Reformation, or trying to explain the real reason the Americas fell so quickly to the conquistadores – I remained unpersuaded. A book obviously aimed at general readers, who are advised to stay alert to any special pleading.