Reviews and articles
“When China wanted silver from the rest of the world”: an illustrated write-up in the South China Morning Post, 6 February 2018
A route across the Pacific in the 16th century was a catalyst for the integration of the planet. The Silver Way: China, Spanish America and the Birth of Globalisation, 1565-1815 reveals how the Ruta de la Plata connected China with Spanish America, furthering economic and cultural exchange and building the foundations for the first global currency.
“Reflections on the Silver Way and the Silk Road” by Jing Wang in the Asian Review of Books, 18 October 2018
Since the Chinese President Xi Jinping first proposed to revive the Silk Road in 2013, the term have become almost ubiquitous, whether used in a celebratory or derogative way. The topics range from trade agreements, financial loans, military bases, soft-power expansion, and cultural exchanges in the age of globalization.
The Silver Way: China, Spanish America and the Birth of Globalisation, 1565–1815 is thus timely. It offers contemporary readers an alternative way to understand global connections within the Global South. Focusing on the historical relationship between China and Spanish America, authors Peter Gordon and Juan José Morales shed light on a history largely understudied but instrumental to the formation of global networks.
“How China and Hong Kong’s currencies were shaped by Spanish, Mexican silver dollars” in the South China Morning Post, 7 February 2018
Stuart Heaver: Many modern East Asian currencies have roots in Ming dynasty trade and Chinese traders’ faith in the Mexican silver dollar. Attempts to dislodge it, such as the Hong Kong-minted silver British dollar, were not always successful.
“By far the bulk of the world’s silver production was from Spanish America and at least a third of that amount went to China,” says Peter Gordon, co-author of The Silver Way.
Gordon’s book, co-written by Juan José Morales, explains how silver Spanish … dollars minted in Mexico flooded into China via Manila in the 16th century, brought in on huge galleons. Then, as now, China was by far the biggest regional economy, making the hazardous transpacific voyage from the Mexican port of Acapulco highly lucrative.
“Museo del Galeon to relive romance of the high seas”, Inquirer (Philippines), 4 September 2017
Gordon and Morales call the galleons built by Filipinos and from local materials “a precursor of today’s world-leading Asian shipyards.” The galleons were locally designed and made from locally supplied materials, constructed by local labor augmented by Chinese hands. “The galleons’ reputation for durability and sturdiness was built upon the local hardwoods: the ships were relatively impervious to both cannonfire and shiprot.”
“The Silver Way: Travel-writing Across the Pacific of the 16th-19th Centuries” at the Hong Kong Book Fair, video of the complete presentation.
Peter Gordon and Juan José Morales present the “Silver Way” interspersed with reading of primary sources from the 16th to 19th centuries.
Review in Bookish.asia, 12 July 2017
John Grant Ross: This small book – a Penguin Special weighing in at a hundred pages – packs a punch, and though no more than an afternoon’s easy reading, it may well alter the way you think about the history of China and globalization. Despite its short format and readability, The Silver Way is a serious production with illustrations, footnotes, and an extensive bibliography. It’s a fascinating book from two knowledgeable writers.
“Book Review: The Silver Way” in City Weekend (Beijing), 5 June 2017
Lara Ek: The book is a fast, engaging read, rife with information about an often-skipped part of history. Its richness comes from the fascinating examples that Morales and Gordon use to evidence the importance of the Silver Way… Fortunately, Gordon and Morales pare down the overwhelming detail into a streamlined explanation—though not without dipping into some of the more unusual items of trade, including one particularly striking story of an entrepreneur of wooden noses… The Silver Way accomplishes well what it sets out to be: a concise, carefully researched slice of history, densely packed with clear stories and well-researched sources. It is an excellent little volume to add to your knowledge base, and which, in the end, may induce you to visit more museums than you had originally intended.
“China y la América Española: historia de una globalización” in El País, 17 June 2017
Una China protagonista, dos potencias enigmáticas la una para la otra, una relación donde el pragmatismo se antepone a la rivalidad y los intereses comerciales priman sobre los instintos bélicos: la relación entre Asia y Occidente en el siglo XVII, según Morales y Gordon. En el siglo XXI, ¿será la misma?
“The Silver Way: How Mexican Silver Coins Paved a 16th-Century Sea Route to China” in Caixin, 16 June 2017
Expertos: Comercio entre China y mundo hispano fue testigo del nacimiento de la globalización in Xinhua, 10 June 2017
Durante una mesa redonda celebrada por el Instituto Cervantes, Gordon afirmó que “la Ruta de la Plata es del mundo hispano, de China y de Asia”, y añadió que hay muchos estudios en la historia sobre esta ruta, que tiene diferentes nombres, pero cree que el producto más importante en esta vía era la plata, y por eso la bautizó “la Ruta de la Plata”.
“What China’s History Says About Its Role in Globalization” in That’s Beijing, 17 May 2017
Jonathan Chatwin: Four hundred years ago, a new trading route linking Latin America with Asia put China at the heart of a globalizing world. So why do we see China as a historical recluse, asks Dr. Jonathan Chatwin, and what does it mean for today’s diplomacy?
“La ruta de la plata o cómo el antiguo dólar mexicano cambió el mundo” in Sputnik Mundo, 2 May 2017
Como se puede ver, la América española ha tenido un gran impacto no solo en la cultura mundial, sino también en el proceso de globalización.
“The Silver Way Explains How the Old Mexican Dollar Changed the World” a review in The National Interest, 30 April 2017:
Salvatore Babones: The Silver Way is a rollickingly fun read. Fans of forgotten history will rejoice to see the story of the Manila Galleon trade told in such an accessible format. Monetary historians and globalization experts have long been fascinated by the topic, and hard-to-find academic articles on the subject circulate among specialists as a kind of crypto-currency of the intellectual illuminati. Now everyone can enjoy the tale. Popular history at its best.
“Penguin book casts new spotlight on the Manila Galleon Trade”, review in the Philippine Enquirer, 1 May 2017:
Benito Legarda Jr: The book concludes that “the story of one increasingly integrated world begins in the Pacific around 1565 and not in the Western Europe of the mid-18th century.” This means Urdaneta and Manila were at the beginning of modern world economic trends—something for Filipino historians to ponder.
“Ad Sølvvejen til Asiens markeder” (in Danish) Weekendavisen 21 April 2017
Peter Harmsen: People of the ocean. Has the Spanish empire’s contribution to the world of today been underestimated? Yes, two authors say to a new book about the lively shipping and trade across the Pacific several centuries ago.
“The Manila Galleon Trade: Events, effects, lessons” in the Manila Times, 3 March 2017
Ma. Isabel Ongpin: There must be a lesson to be learned from the Sinic-Spanish Manila Galleon Trade which could be applicable today for better relations in the modern world. The authors of “The Silver Way” have interesting insights and recommendations along this line.
“Globalization is as old as the Manila Galleon” in the Manila Times, 24 February 2017
Ma. Isabel Ongpin: The subject of “The Silver Way” is the more integrated, cohesive and enduring trade between Asia and Spanish America and from there to High Renaissance Europe when Spain was dominant and the Philippines was ruled by it via Mexico.
“México y China ejes de la globalización” (Notimex press agency) in Pulso Politico, 21 February 2017
Maurizio Guerrero: México y China, conectados por el comercio impulsado por España en el siglo XVI, constituyen los ejes originales de la globalización, entendida como la conexión sistemática y continua entre continentes, afirmaron Peter Gordon y Juan José Morales.
“Los ecos del Galeón de Manila en la globalización del siglo XXI” (EFE news agency) in El Confidencial, 4 February 2017
Isabel Fueyo: La ruta comercial marítima entre Asia y Latinoamérica, iniciada en 1565 por los españoles, fue la precursora de la globalización y sirve a día de hoy a potencias como China para diseñar sus planes de expansión económica.
El español Juan José Morales y el estadounidense Peter Gordon así lo defienden en un nuevo ensayo presentado esta semana en Hong Kong: “La Ruta de la Plata: China, Hispanoamérica y el nacimiento de la globalización, 1565-1815”, que reclama el valor histórico de aquella línea comercial como una de las precursoras del comercio internacional actual.
“¿Debemos a China la globalización? Así era la ruta de la plata en el SXVI” in El Mundo, 29 January 2017
“The Manila Galleon as harbinger of globalization” in the Philippine Star, 30 January 2017
Alfred A Yuson: A fresh title in the Penguin Specials series now posits that it was the Manila Galleon that heralded globalization way back in the 16th century. “The Silver Way: China, Spanish America and the Birth of Globalisation, 1565–1815”, by Peter Gordon and Juan José Morales, relates how China was a principal player in this narrative. The account also gives credit to Manila as the entrepot that served as the start of the intercontinental chain of commerce.
Isidre Ambrós: En su obra La ruta de la plata, Morales y Gordon subrayan la relevancia que tuvo esta vía comercial entre Hispanoamérica y Asia en el intercambio económico y cultural entre tres continentes, con una moneda estandarizada. Una actividad que marcó el inicio de la economía mundial como la entendemos actualmente.
Review in The Diplomat, 6 January 2017
“… a needed corrective to the history of globalization by giving East Asia and Spanish America their due as the originators of the global economy.”
Review in Beyond Thirty-Nine, 21 January 2017
We tend to study the story of European expansion following a Dutch and British narratives but this wonderful book forces us to put down our usual reading glasses and put on new one of a different color.
Jame diBiasio, 27 January 2017
A trade war is now in the offing. A kinetic war, although unlikely, does not feel remote or unthinkable (although neither Xi nor Trump, nor their frothy constituents, seem interested in thinking about the consequences.)
Perhaps there is another way. Peter Gordon and Juan José Morales, suggest a historical example that could prove a handy guide. Their short book, The Silver Way: China, Spanish America and the birth of globalization, 1565-1815, reminds us that globalization was not invented by Britain or America. Can we return to a world in which global trade is mutually beneficial while dulling the ideology around it?