Books,Culture,Wine,Wine Education

BOOK: The First Global Village ~ How Portugal Changed the World, by Martin Page

Map of Portuguese districts with names
Image via Wikipedia

When a book arrives on one’s doorstep as a gift, it has not only come from the sender, but it’s also arrived from the universe as a token of change and an opportunity for expansive knowledge. This is what The First Global Village by Martin Page became for me.

Before it arrived, my understanding of Portugal was extremely minimal; having never been there, nor ever having studied Portugal’s past or present, in my life time. I grew up in Lewiston, Maine. Southeast of that city is Lisbon and then Lisbon Falls – a place where the Androscoggin River rages during the spring, and a rock formation caused a natural waterfall. Once I realized that Lisbon was the capital of Portugal, it had a very quiet, subliminal influence on my life, but nothing that drove to me to get to the depths of the small western European country.)

Once in the wine business, I found myself researching Port for the obvious reasons. Beyond that reason, I had a completely empty slate. So, it is with great gratitude that I mention Delfim Costa of Enoforum Wines for sending Martin Page’s book to me, which has allowed me to expand my world view a bit more. Delfim is Portuguese, and we met at the Wine Bloggers Conference in 2008.

The title really tells it like it is, because of Portugal’s multicultural contributions to the world, much of it includes a food and wine lifestyle. According to Martin Page, the following are examples of Portuguese influences around the globe:

  • Portuguese Jesuits lived in Japan for generations before our ancestors knew of this, introducing words into the Japanese language; e.g., “orrigato,” which means “thank you.” They brought the recipe for tempura. They introduced the technique for gun manufacturing. The Portuguese also taught the Japanese how to construct buildings that would withstand artillery attack and earthquakes.
  • The chili plant was brought to India, allowing “curry” to be invented.
  • Portuguese is the third most spoken language in Europe (English, Spanish, then Portuguese), even before French and German. It’s the language of cattle ranchers in northern California and fishing communities on the New England coast line…. Both of which I have personal experiences.
  • The Portuguese own and operate over 400 restaurants in Paris as Italian trattorias.
  • Sintra, Portugal, has been an attraction for writers’ inspiration for generations; e.g.,  Henry Fielding, Robert Southey, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Lord Byron, Ian Fleming, Graham Greene, Christoper Isherwood, W. H. Auden.
  • When the Arabs arrived, they brought with them bananas, coconuts, sugar cane, oil palms, maize and rice, lettuce, onions, carrots, cucumbers, apples, pears, wine grapes, and figs… All part of a Mediterranean diet.

Their foods and irrigation system for watering is still studied to day by northern European medical researchers for clues to what makes their heart-healthy such a study lot.

Irrigation, which was driven by water wheels, was brought to Portugal from Alexandria. This act created a technological revolution, the likes of which had never been seen in Europe prior to the Arabs arriving.  This allowed for the crops mentioned above to be farmed and successfully introduced.

In a historical time-line, Portugal has had pivotal dates and people, which have affected their country; and, in a trickle-down effect, world civilization. This book’s chapters outline the dates and people who migrated to Portugal, giving it such a varied culture. Each transformation, as adapted, has added rich fibers to the tapestry threads of these fascinating people of today.

On New Year’s Day, my resolution was to learn the Portuguese culture, which was inspired by this book. The titles of the chapters indicate each invasion and the ethnic traditions left behind as a result. To read these titles puts into perspective how the last (nearly) 3,000 years, Portugal became a nation set apart from all others, and yet has so many links to the past that many people can identify with the Portuguese of today.

  1. From Jonah to Julius Caesar (700 BC )
  2. Rome on the Atlantic (55 BC)
  3. Rise & Fall of Christianity (212 AD)
  4. Arabs Bring Civilization to Europe (712)
  5. The Christian Reconquest (1126)
  6. The Cistercian Peace
  7. Prince Henry the Misadventure
  8. King João and the Great Adventure
  9. Pêro da Covilhã: Master Spy
  10. Vasco da Gama and the Lord of the Oceans
  11. India and Beyond
  12. The Golden Age of Lisbon; Disaster Abroad
  13. The Coming of the Inquisition; The Departure of the Jews
  14. Freedom Regained
  15. Pombal and the King: A duet in Megalomania
  16. Playground of the great Powers
  17. The fall of the House of Braganca
  18. The Slide to Dictatorship
  19. World War II: Betrayal and hte Fight for Freedom
  20. Freedom at Dawn

“Why were there so many invaders?” you might ask. The answer is quite simple. The first invaders discovered that this is a country rich in minerals, most especially gold and silver. the lure of gold has always set men into a frenzy of need to own.

It all begins in the Bible with a story we’ve all heard. When Jonah was sent to Nineveh to tell the sinners that God was angry, he didn’t want to go, and bought a ticket – supposedly – beyond God’s reach. Soon after the ship sailed, a violent storm erupted, and the captain and crew threw Jonah overboard. He was swallowed by a whale, and then spit out onto land. It was Portugal where he landed. Jonah traveled on to Tarshish, which today survives as a name of a small town in Spain, which is only 3 miles and 1281.6 yards from the border of Portugal.

By 230 BC, Hamilcar (father) was exiled to Tarshish. He took his son Hannibal (who was eight years old at the time, and wanted to go with his father). This was a costly mistake, as Hannibal would avenge his father by crossing the Apennines Mountains, win a major battle, and march toward Rome…

And so, their history begins, changing the pastoral landscape of a quiet people, who have managed to remain peaceful through all time, regardless of whom was the next to invade their homeland. The Portuguese were open to the civilization refinements that were delivered to them during each invasion. Along the way, they created the Institution of Good Men (in the 700s), which still exists today. A social consciousness was created whereby widows and orphans are cared for, social welfare for all was created and has been maintained, all duties of the town are seen as everyone’s responsibility – including fire fighting – and are as independent and self sufficient as some parts of the United State might be. It is a daily way of life, however, in Portugal throughout the country, not just pockets of social consciousness that we might find in successful regions of rural America today. Imagine – for instance – if this were our complete and utter culture during Hurricane Katrina. One neighboring town would not have closed out its neighbor in need. Our country would not have wondered what to do for a week, all the wheels would have begun turning without regard for anything else.

There is a lot to be learned from The First Global Village. Martin Page moved to Portugal for a reason, and I can only image as his eyesight failed during his last years, this culture would have made his disability more manageable, with a tolerant people, great food, and excellent wine.

My life is enriched by this Portuguese culture, which I plan to continue studying through Delfim’s eye. The universe has delivered an amazingly adventurous opportunity to my life.

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12 Responses to “BOOK: The First Global Village ~ How Portugal Changed the World, by Martin Page”

  1. Paul Norton Rudé says:

    Greetings from Portugal Mr. Diaz,

    It’s with heartfelt joy that I communicate to you concerning, The First Global Village.

    Your review of this ‘obra prima’ is magnificent. Well done!

    I would like to continue if possible, to be in e-mail or voice contact with you.

    Kind Regards,

    Paul Norton Rudé

  2. Jo says:

    Greetings from Sonoma County, Paul.

    Are you the same Paul Norton Rudé of “The Medical Significance of the ‘Relaxation Response’ at the Cellular Level?”

    Thank you for your comments about my evaluation of this important book that details the history of Portugal. I’m really looking forward to the day when I, too, like Martin Page, will visit Portugal.

    My Email is jo@diaz-communications.com.

    Please do keep in touch. — jo

  3. Doug Frey says:

    Greetings Jo, My wife and I just returned from Portugal where I had the good fortune to acquire the First Global Village book. It is very difficult to get this book in the US, although Amazon has some used copies for $159.00 (In Portugal it sells for 16.20 Euros) I like the author’s style but I have some doubts about the accuracy of his histories, especially the Cistercian Peace and Middle Ages period. But I guess all history has a certain plasticity that bends to the ideals of the historian.
    Among other things, I spent some time at a small Quinta where a good freind lives with a vineyard which produces yearly about 10,000 bottles of a very tasty red Dao wine. It has a new lable (Vilela, I think)and is in the area near Viseu in the north of Portugal. If you get to Portugal you might be able to find it, and you will like it if you do. The wines in the Algarve are a little heavy and full bodied but we also like them, Lagoa, being one lable that I liked. But the best thing about Portugal is the welcoming attitude of the people, unfailingly friendly, Martin Page has it right on that score. I hope you soon get to Portugal and visit the many beautiful areas which it has and taste its many vintages. You might also want to pick up some copies of The First Global Village to give your friends as they are so difficult to find here in the US. Thanks for sharing your appreciation of the Global Village book.
    -Doug Frey-

  4. Jo says:


    Thanks for your comments regarding this book and your visit to Portugal. The most wonderful thing about the Internet is how it connects us all. I now have your recommendations for the day that I travel there.

    Above are Paul Norton Rudé comments, too. We had a few E-Mails back and forth about how this book would benefit from a US importer/wholesaler. From what you’re saying about the current price in the US, I feel very fortunate to have it given to me as a gift. (Amazing.)

    Thanks for letting me know that you had a wonderful time, and sharing that with me. I’ve enjoyed your Email. — jo

  5. Andy John says:

    A nice review of a good read! Portugal has a place in my heart and this book enhanced it. There is a copy on ebay now.

  6. Paulo Coelho says:

    #Portuguese is the third most spoken language in Europe (English, Spanish, then Portuguese #

    I’m Portuguese, and i like when someone tries to know more about my country, so i loved to read your text.
    But you should correct that value…. in Europe, at least the German, Polish, English or Italian have more spoken people than the Portuguese. My language is the 6º or even the 5º all over the world, but not on Europe…
    And keep on enjoyng Portuguese wine, one of the best wines on the world …

    Paulo Coelho

  7. Jo says:

    Paulo, It was Martin Page (the author) who gave that value in his book.

    You may be right, though, because Portugal is a very small country, in comparison to Germany, Poland, and Italy. I, too, wondered about that number, but I didn’t question Martin Page’s facts.

    Thanks for questioning that. I believe you are right. I’ll edit the text and write, “According to Martin Page…” so that others will know that he may not have been right, but he was definitely excited about the possibility.

    It also make me wonder… not that I’m writing this to you, if others in Europe also speak Portuguese, in order to communicate better with the Portuguese when they visit your country.

  8. Ana Mourinho says:


    Comenting the two last statements about the Portuguese language being the third most spoken language in Europe, I believe that the author is talking about the third most spoken european language. It’s possible and likely that among all the European languages, the Portuguese is the third most spoken in the World; So when he says that is the third most spoken language in Europe I understood that “in Europe” doesn’t mean the space where it is spoken in Europe, but among european languages…

    I believe it makes sence this way, but I’m no expert!

    Anyway, as a portuguese I share the opinion of Paulo Coelho, it’s really nice when someone stops to studie our history and our position in the World among centuries, when the common portuguese people seems to feel always inferior and seem to have forgotten our great past.

    Congratulations and thank you for your review, it became very useful for my resume of this book!

    Happy New Year!

  9. Odilia says:

    Hello there,

    I, too, was gifted this book and enjoyed reading it very much. It further reinforced my knowledge of Portuguese history, which I learned as a child and as a teen while living in Portugal.

    Of course I also realize that an author’s writings can sometimes be influenced by how he feels about the ‘people’ he is writing about, be it positive or negative.

    Nonetheless, it is great to know that people can learn a bit about Portuguese history through this book and therefore gain an appreciation for its people, leading them to see the Portuguese people in a different, more positive light.

    I too enjoy and appreciate when others, who have no ties to Portugal, want to learn more about my culture, language, etc…It makes me feel that we, as a people, are not as ignorant as many try to make us look and feel, especially in immigrant communities abroad. It is quite often the ignorance of people and the media in the host nations, who contribute to the fact that many Portuguese descents try to keep their pride in who they are and who they are about quite low key, as to not be mocked.

    I also wondered about ‘the Portuguese language being the third most spoken language in Europe’ and I tend to agree with Ana Mourinho….it is also how I originally read and interpreted that bit of information!

    However, having travelled as much as I have, it is quite possible, although I’m not entirely convinced, that it could also be the third language most spoken in all of Europe. There are many (thousands, even millions) of Portuguese people and their descendents living in places such as Andorra, France, Spain, England, Jersey, Germany, Belgium, etc. Those who have never left Portugal nor have ever visited any of these communities, have no concept of how large these communities are…but if one does visit and attends one of their Summer festivals, for example, mirrored after those which happen frequently in Portugal, one will realize how many Portuguese do live in those areas. Factor in the Brazilians…add them all up, who knows, this second interpretation could be right…!

    Anyhow Jo, I most appreciate your words and your contribution!

    As the Portuguese often say, Bem Haja to you!


  10. Jo Diaz says:

    Hi, Odilia,

    It may be that when Martin page was writing how many people in Europe speak Portuguese, he may have (in fact) been actually thinking about how many people in the world speak your language. I’m not entirely sure.

    It was a really great fortune to have my client Enoforum Wines bring me to Portugal, so I could experience this amazing country and its people. They knew that my writings for the future would be based in knowledge, not just conjecture or as a book report.

    Now, I live to return, among other things on my list of things to do with my life.

    I can’t imagine anyone even suggesting that the people of Portugal are ignorant in any way, because all of the people whom I met are what I think of as brilliant… And a bit advanced, if their conservation efforts even begin to reflect their intelligence…. Land of small cars, versus big, honkin’ US gas guzzlers.

    I have fallen in love with Portugal and her people, just as Martin Page did, and as have many other ex-patriots who now live there.

    If I had European travel choices in my future, I’d be headed toward Portugal. I wait to return as a great gift from the universe… It’s that simple.

    Thanks for your comments. I really appreciate your deep thoughts and revelations.

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