The Age of Trade: The Manila Galleons and the Dawn of the Global Economy – Arturo Giráldez

This unique book on an overlooked and important aspect of the Age of Exploration can’t seem to pick what it wants to be. Is it an economic history? A political history? Or (least of all) a cultural history? Perhaps Giraldez presupposes a reader with more foreknowledge of the topic than I have, which is fair, but I often found myself lost in the lists of figures and officials. The inclusions of laws was extremely helpful and interesting but their contents were poorly explained. I wanted to read more about the Magellan exchange, revealing my own biases. I wanted to read more about interactions with the Chinese and Filipinos. I wanted more than figures and names, which disrupt the narrative and delay analysis. I think this book is part of a crucial project but for the uninformed reader and perhaps the informed reader as well, it falls short in terms of analytical content.

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