John Edwards

In Spanish Steps

World Without End: The Global Empire of Philip II


Allen Lane/The Penguin Press 464pp £30 order from our bookshop

There has always been a deep reluctance among what Winston Churchill called ‘the English-speaking peoples’ to acknowledge their predecessors in European empire-building in other parts of the world. Yet wherever the British went in their globetrotting, whether as pirates, traders or governors, they very often found that the Spanish, or their Iberian neighbours the Portuguese, had been there first. In his long and distinguished career as a historian, Hugh Thomas has battled to restore the Spanish to their proper place in world history, for better or worse. This substantial volume completes a trilogy, covering the Spanish imperial adventure from Columbus’s ‘discoveries’ to the death of Philip II just over a century later, in 1598. Primarily concerned with Philip’s time as king of Spain, from 1556 until his death, the book tackles the period, which may be regarded as the highpoint of the Spanish Empire, from a variety of angles.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,
    • RT : One of my favourite literary magazines is celebrating 40 years this year. Here is the September edition of… ,
    • 'Now that the Thames is too fast-flowing to freeze, its spirit’s devotees ... have found other climes for their pri… ,
    • 'Bythell glowers past his till at a world in slow free fall.' on the travails of a second-hand book… ,
    • 'It is a scent of animal wrath, of instinctive need, of brutal life which affects the cultured nostrils of our civi… ,
    • 'The day produced countless stories of chance, of people taking one route or another without realising that the dec… ,