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World Without End: Spain, Philip II, and the First Global Empire

(Spanish Empire #3)

3.56  ·  Rating details ·  98 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Following Rivers of Gold and The Golden Age, World Without End is the conclusion of a magisterial three-volume history of the Spanish Empire by Hugh Thomas, its foremost worldwide authority. World Without End tells the story of life in a conquered territory that stretched from Cuba to Peru, and of the final conquests of the greatest empire that the world had then seen sinc ...more
Hardcover, 496 pages
Published August 11th 2015 by Random House (first published July 3rd 2014)
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Jan 29, 2018 rated it did not like it
A nonfiction book, the third in a trilogy about the Spanish Empire. This one focuses on the time period of King Philip's reign (1527-1598), though it's more concerned with the country's new colonies than anything happening in Philip's court itself. The book is organized by place: we've got New Spain (modern Mexico and the surrounding areas), Peru (the former Incan empire, more or less), newly conquered areas of South America (Chile, Paraguay, Guyana, etc) and the Philippines.

Argh, this book. Th
The lead description Of Hugh Thomas' World Without End suggests the term "magisterial" for this work. I guess the appropriateness of that description depends on your definition. Certainly there is a monumental amount of research that went into the writing. But the result was for me disappointing. It is the equivalent of a long list of names, dates and places -- a much more compelling history of the Spanish empire is out there somewhere. For me, this work was short on analysis, insight and even t ...more
Eduardo Garcia-Gaspar
Jul 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: historia
El tercero de la serie sobre el imperio español. Los dos anteriores trataron el período del inicio con los Reyes Católicos y las conquistas con Carlos V. Este se concentra en el reinado de Felipe II y como en los anteriores, Thomas abruma al lector con un alud de información que se concentra más en las colonias que en la España misma y sus problemas en Europa. Son tratados con amplitud los sucesos en México, Perú, el cono sur, las Filipinas e incluso los planes de invasión y conquista de China. ...more
Chris Jaffe
Well, this was a pretty damn disappointing book. Thomas is a historian from Britain who has written several books about Spain – many from its imperial heyday. So I was expecting this to be …..something more than it was, frankly.

Maybe my impressions going in were too high. That’s possible. But this book reminded me of a locally produced county history written in the 19th century, just on a grander scale. That’s not a good thing. What do I mean by that? Well, ever heard the story of a bunch of bl
Svetlana Petrova
Jan 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
I am currently researching the golden age of Spain, which was the reason I've picked this book. While it is obvious that the author knows his material, it was somewhat surprising to me how hard he tries to exonerate atrocities the Spaniards left in their wake in the South and Central America. Before my recent trip to Peru, I was able to research the conquest and its outcome. Well, it was one of the most horrifying examples of genocide in human history devised and manufactured by imperial Spain. ...more
Brady Clemens
Aug 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: I won this in a Goodreads giveaway. Hugh Thomas charts the fascinating rise of the Spanish Empire, beginning in the Americas with New Spain and ending with the Spanish dominion of the Philippines. The reach of Spain truly was global, with ambitions to go even further; at the end of the period under discussion, Spanish officials were making serious preparations for an invasion of China, an idea which gradually fell by the wayside. While moving through the mass of names in the wor ...more
Chris Fluit
May 17, 2020 rated it did not like it
Shelves: history
The author made the egregious error of defending the Spanish empire instead of describing it. By the end, he suggested that Spanish rule would have been less devastating to China than other regimes for reasons. I put up with the author's idiosyncrasies in the previous books because he was an informative storyteller but this volume had few redeeming features. The author spent too much space on inconsequential details and not enough on important ones. For example, he devoted 2 chapters and 30 page ...more
Mark Davidson
Somewhat late in life I've "discovered" Latin America and so have been looking for good general histories of the Spanish Conquest period.

While I found much in this (and its companion books) of great interest, in the end the entire series was thoroughly unsatisfying. Clearly the author is an expert in this field but these books would have benefited from an entirely more critical editing process. Finding the narrative and larger story in the midst of excessive pedantic details just becomes a har
The Book Grocer
Oct 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Purchase World Without End here for just $15!

The final volume of Hugh Thomas' trilogy about the Spanish Empire, World Without End is an intelligent and insightful look at Spain through the perspective of Philip II. An interesting and fast-paced read.

Elisa - The Book Grocer
Oct 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
This history looks at the Spanish Empire in Latin America and Asia. The book begins with a discussion of conditions in Spain at the time, and then looks at the colonies and their relationship with the mother country. The book is well-written and insightful, but was a little hard to follow in some parts for someone unfamiliar with Spanish history and empire.
E.J. Randolph
Aug 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Impressive research. I agree with some of the reviews that expressed a preference for more analysis. But, I was enlightened by learning about the extensiveness and legacy of the Spanish empire. Somehow, this was a hole in my historical education, so I benefited from reading the book.
Fernando Escobar
Feb 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
(3.5 stars) It's a solid Spanish history book. Read a lot of bad revies about this title: it's not that bad. However, it has a little trouble making a single cohesive story with all it's characters. ...more
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2015
An engagingly written, fast-paced book it nonetheless took me awhile to finish. It's not the book, it's me. There's a danger in picking up the last in a 3-part history without having first read the other two. Again, that's my fault. But World Without End passed the stand-alone test with aplomb (perhaps not with "flying colors"). This is a treatment of the Spanish Empire through the prism of the reign of Philip II. Thomas maintains the view that Philip's death in 1598 marked the transition of the ...more
Nov 25, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
This is truly an excellent book. I was not very familiar with the Spanish Empire and it's conquest of the Americas. This was a very interesting account of Phillip II's enterprises in the American Hemisphere. This book is full of details and anecdotes. It does tend to read a bit dry, so if you are not a fan of pure history-then this may not be the book for you. However, if you are interested in Philip II or the Spanish Empire in America in the wake of the conquistadores then this is a great book ...more
Nov 11, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book had lots of interesting information as far as Spanish expansion in the sixteenth century. It was too detailed as far as names of people only mentioned once or twice that had no bearing in the over all picture. The author also enjoyed taking up space detailing where each person was born in relation to other people born ("xx was born in xx as was xx which is nearby the town of xx where xx and xx were also born"). ...more
Especially good history of the founding and working mechanics of the Spanish Empire, which was lacking in the last history of Spain that I read. A good counterpoint, in many ways, to the anti-Spanish sentiment in some parts of the Americas, as well as in the English-speaking world, its imperial rival for centuries. Learned a lot!
Sep 11, 2016 rated it liked it
I loved his book on Mexico. I found the topic of great interest and the expansion under philip II impressive. The 300 pages contained way too many names of personalities that I got lost.
Kit Redmond
Sep 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a very interesting book and on a subject that I was unfamiliar with.
Michael Flick
Oct 02, 2016 rated it liked it
Fascinating, but as the other volumes in this history of Spain, more details than are really necessary, which takes away from the flow of this important story.
John Tarttelin
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Hayk Iskanyan
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Apr 15, 2020
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Aug 19, 2015
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Byron Kawaichi
rated it it was ok
Oct 29, 2015
Johan Persson
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Librarian’s note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Hugh Swynnerton Thomas, Baron Thomas of Swynnerton, was a British historian and Hispanist.

Thomas was educated at Sherborne School in Dorset before taking a BA in 1953 at Queens' College, Cambridge. He also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris. His 1961 book The Spanish Civil War won the Somerset Maugham Award for

Other books in the series

Spanish Empire (3 books)
  • Rivers of Gold: The Rise of the Spanish Empire from Columbus to Magellan
  • The Golden Empire: Spain, Charles V, and the Creation of America

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