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The Clockmaker's Daughter. Madeleine Thien. A Man Called Ove. Fredrik Backman. The title is a misleading one for the articles Brook uses to transport the reader to the seventeenth century could have come from many depictions of interiors at the time. With the recent success of Tracy Chevalier's novel and the subsequent film adaptation Girl with a Pearl Earring , which dares to create a fictional relationship between model and artist, could Brook be capitalising on popular interest in Vermeer in order to exploit a loose connection between what he wants to say about the dawn of the global economy and the work of an artist who currently attracts much attention?

Review: Vermeer's Hat by Timothy Brook | Books | The Guardian

What Brook has in abundance is the ability to tell a good story; history is really brought to life with vivid descriptions of piracy on the high seas, exploration of North America's Great Lakes and the addiction to tobacco of upper class Chinese ladies. This is a highly entertaining read even if it does tend to lose its way at times. However, the disappointment for me came with the almost total lack of appreciation of Vermeer's paintings for their quality; this implied, to me, a suggestion that the paintings are more important for what they tell us about the time in which they were painted than about their intrinsic beauty or charm.

As a keen art historian I found this view very one-dimensional. In spite of its minor failings, Vermeer's Hat is immensely readable; it can be read in its entirety but the individual chapters work well as stand alone articles too. It's a very accessible way of presenting history which would have universal appeal but it struck me that it might be an excellent way of promoting an interest in history to young men who don't read much because it features heavily tales of piracy, exploration and warfare.

Vermeer's Hat is an engaging work that combines social and economic history with a dash of good old-fashioned storytelling to throw open a fascinating window on the seventeenth century world. Recommendations for further reading: If you enjoy tales of derring do, this fictional tale of life on the high seas from the same period may appeal to you. In this dazzling history, Timothy Brook uses Vermeer's works, and other contemporary images from Europe, Asia, and the Americas to trace the rapidly growing web of global trade, and the explosive, transforming, and sometimes destructive changes it wrought in the age when globalization really began.

See All Customer Reviews. Shop Books. Read an excerpt of this book! Add to Wishlist. USD Sign in to Purchase Instantly. Overview In this critical darling Vermeer's captivating and enigmatic paintings become windows that reveal how daily life and thought-from Delft to Beijing--were transformed in the 17th century, when the world first became global. About the Author Timothy Brook is a professor of history and principal of St. John's College at the University of British Columbia.

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He is the author of many books, including Vermeer's Hat , winner of the Mark Lynton Prize for outstanding achievement in world history, and Confusions of Pleasure , which received the Joseph Levenson Prize from the Association for Asian Studies. He lives in Vancouver, Canada. Average Review. Write a Review. Related Searches. Beirut New Writing from the Arab World. Beirut is the World Book Capital, as designated by UNESCO, and at the center of the festivities, in collaboration with the world-renowned Hay Festival, is a competition to identify the thirty-nine most promising young talents in Arab literature.

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