7 April, 2020

Anthony Reid’s volume one describes the material and social life of the inhabitants of Southeast Asia, while volume two details the impact of maritime commerce and the transformation it made to region as a whole. Here in the “hubs of commerce in the lands below the winds” is where Southeast Asian merchants, rulers, cities and states participated in the flow of trade in sandalwood, camphor, clove, nutmeg and pepper that lured participants from the other side of the world. While highly profitable, they were minor items relative to bulk foods such as rice and salt traded across this immense region. The evolution of the region and its stimulation to global commerce systems through maritime activity and its subsequent decline due to the retreat of the regions reliance on international markets and the growing religious disenchantment with the material world are wonderfully explored.