Waves Across the South: A New History of Revolution and Empire
WINNER OF THE BRITISH ACADEMY BOOK PRIZE FOR GLOBAL CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING
SHORTLISTED FOR THE PEN-HESSEL TILTMAN PRIZE 2021
LONGLISTED FOR THE CUNDILL HISTORY PRIZE 2021
‘Helps re-centre how we look at the world’ PETER FRANKOPAN
‘Global history at its finest’ SUNIL AMRITH
‘A master class’ OLIVETTE OTELE
‘Fascinating’ FINANCIAL TIMES
Starting from the ocean and from the forgotten histories of ocean-facing communities, this is a new history of the making of our world.
After revolutions in America and France, a wave of tumult coursed the globe from 1790 to 1850. It was a moment of unprecedented change and violence especially for indigenous peoples. By 1850 vibrant public debate between colonised communities had exploded in port cities. Yet in the midst of all of this, Britain struck out by sea and established its supremacy over the Indian and Pacific Oceans, overtaking the French and Dutch as well as other rivals.
Cambridge historian Sujit Sivasundaram brings together his work in far-flung archives across the world and the best new academic research in this remarkably creative book. Too often, history is told from the northern hemisphere, with modernity, knowledge, selfhood and politics moving from Europe to influence the rest of the world. This book traces the origins of our times from the perspective of indigenous and non-European people in the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
This is a compulsive story full of cultural depth and range, a world history that speaks to urgent concerns today. The book weaves a bracingly fresh account of the origins of the British empire.
‘Fresh, sparkling and ground-breaking, Waves Across the South helps re-centre how we look at the world and opens up new perspectives on how we can look at regions, peoples and places that have been left to one side of traditional histories for far too long’PETER FRANKOPAN -
‘A magisterial intervention in world history’MARGOT FINN, PRESIDENT OF THE ROYAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY -
”'A breathtaking book. Sujit Sivasundaram takes the familiar story of the 'age of revolutions” - and turns it upside down, putting the voices, the hopes and the struggles of the seafaring peoples of the Indian and Pacific oceans at the heart of his account of how the modern world was forged … Global history at its finest: eloquent, surprising, and deeply moving’SUNIL AMRITH, AUTHOR OF UNRULY WATERS
‘Challenges our understanding of colonial history … [The] outstanding volume takes us on a gripping journey across the globe … [This] magisterial book brings to light a world history that has so far been cast aside by many world historians … A master class in history writing’OLIVETTE OTELE, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY OF SLAVERY AT BRISTOL UNIVERSITY -
‘[There are] many fascinating stories in this rich and stimulating new history … Turns conventional wisdom upside down, and invites us to follow the making of the modern world from the Pacific instead … This is big history’SPECTATOR -
”'Fascinating … Brings to life the 'surge of indigenous politics” - that marked this era'FINANCIAL TIMES
'Brilliantly reconstructs how empire was made through voyages across oceans … An exemplar of historical writing'BBC HISTORY MAGAZINE -
‘He follows little-known voyages across the southern oceans accomplished by multi-ethnic crews … He deftly outlines the singularity of the British Empire… As Sivasundaram convincingly argues in the global South this revolutionary age was defined by the way indigenous peoples responded to Western invasion'LITERARY REVIEW -