Vermeer’s Hat Secondary Title

In 701 B.C. the Assyrian empire was in its ascendancy. It had already vanquished the kingdom of Israel to the north including the capital at Samaria. It then prepared an assault on Judah and its capital at Jerusalem.

But in one of those significant events that changes the course of world history, Assyria was repelled. Jerusalem was saved until 586 B.C. when the Babylonians sacked the city, forcing its leadership class into exile.

Henry Aubin, in a major feat of scholarship, determines that Jerusalem was aided by a Kushite army from Africa which had marched northeast from the Nile valley. While the Bible attributes the Assyrian retreat to an angel and secular commentators cite pestilence, Aubin, in a meticulously documented work, demonstrates that an alliance with the African nation of Kush bolstered Jerusalem’s defences.

Kush, also known as Nubia, was located in what is now southern Egypt and northern Sudan. A monarchy that existed for more than 1000 years, from 900 B.C. to A.D. 350, Kushites held sway over Egypt from 712 B.C. to about 660 B.C. Of Egypt’s 31 dynasties, this, the 25th Dynasty, is the only one that all scholars agree, was black.

The commander of the Kushite expeditionary force was Taharqa (or as the Bible calls him Tirhakah). This Kushite prince, who had his own interests in halting Assyrian expansion, likely caught the aggressors by surprise as they prepared their siege of Jerusalem.

Aubin offers a thrilling military history and a stirring political analysis of the ancient world. He also sees the event as influential over the centuries.

The Kushite rescue of the Hebrew kingdom of Judah enabled the fragile, war-ravaged state to endure, to nurse itself back to economic and demographic health, and allowed the Hebrew religion, Yahwism, to evolve within the next several centuries into Judaism. Thus emerged the monotheistic trunk supporting Christianity and Islam.

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Vermeer’s Hat

The 17th Century and the Dawn of the Global World

Entertainment Weekly Pick of the Week!


“It’s a fascinating approach to cultural history, providing new ways of thinking about the origins of commonplace objects.”

Michael Romero
Entertainment Weekly

“… Brook takes us on rich, suggestive tours of the 17th century.”

Douglas Smith
The Seattle Times

“A vivid portrait of the 17th century as the first great age of globalization.”

Adam Kirsch
The New York Sun

“[Brook] rightly sees Vermeer’s Delft as a microcosm of the era’s international commercial surge … [and] has a larger point, relevant to our own time: We need to narrate the past in a way that recognizes connections, not just divisions.”

Anne Bartlett

 “Vermeer’s Hat is a deftly eclectic book … From the epicenter of Delft, Brook takes his readers on a journey that encompasses Chinese porcelain and beaver pelts, global temperatures and firearms, shipwrecked sailors and their companions, silver mines and Manila galleons. It is a book full of surprising pleasures.”

Jonathan Spence

“It is an absolutely wonderful idea, beautifully executed (and I wish I’d thought of it). In Timothy Brook’s hands, Vermeer’s paintings really do become windows on the past, illuminating a fascinating period in which the world was being remade by global trade.”

Tom Standage
Author of A History of the World in Six Glasses

“Timothy Brook’s fine book provides a shock. By way of Vermeer’s pictures, he takes us through the doorways into a suddenly wider universe, in which tobacco, slaves, spices, beaver pelts, china bowls and South American silver are wrenching together hitherto well-insulated peoples.”

Anthony Bailey
Author of Vermeer: A View of Delft

“Thanks to Brook’s roving and insatiably curious gaze, Vermeer’s small scenes widen onto the broad panorama of world history. The result is like one of Vermeer’s trademark reflective pearls that magically reveals a world beyond itself. A more entertaining guide to world history – and  to Vermeer – is difficult to imagine”.

Ross King
Author of The Judgment of Paris
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