1688: A Global History“With its stories of restless spirits and restless feet and its truly amazing images from Japan to Persia to Rome, this book will surprise and delight every reader and provide new insights into an interactive early modern world.” — John E. Wills, Jr., author, 1688: A Global History

I received this lovely blurb for 1616: The World in Motion from the distinguished historian John E. Wills, Jr. (University of Southern California). Wills wrote a book called 1688: A Global History, which is perhaps the closest in spirit to mine. In fact, once I remembered having read reviews of that book it sort of hung over me while I was doing mine, and I scrupulously avoided looking at it to make sure my approach wouldn’t be influenced by it. (Now that I’m done and I’ve had a look I’m relieved to say that the books turned out to not that much alike.)

I don’t know Prof. Wills, and I approached him cold, and not without a bit of nervousness. Professional historians are often condescending to amateur historians like me. But Prof. Will was generous and gracious, and I am immensely thankful to him.

John E. Wills’s masterful history ushers us into the worlds of 1688, from the suicidal exaltation of Russian Old Believers to the ravishing voice of the haiku poet Bash?. Witness the splendor of the Chinese imperial court as the Kangxi emperor publicly mourns the death of his grandmother and shrewdly consolidates his power. Join the great caravans of Muslims on their annual pilgrimage from Damascus and Cairo to Mecca. Walk the pungent streets of Amsterdam and enter the Rasp House, where vagrants, beggars, and petty criminals labored to produce powdered brazilwood for the dyeworks. Through these stories and many others, Wills paints a detailed picture of how the global connections of power, money, and belief were beginning to lend the world its modern form. “A vivid picture of life in 1688…filled with terrifying violence, frightening diseases…comfortingly familiar human kindnesses…and the intellectual achievements of Leibniz, Locke, and Newton.”–Publishers Weekly