In recent years, historians of the Atlantic world have emphasized the extent to which supposedly rival European empires and their subjects became entangled or intertwined in a variety of ways. Much of the newer work centers on the adjustments and, ultimately, momentous transformations following “the great war for the empire,” as Lawrence Henry Gipson styled it. By contrast, Adrian Finucane focuses her attention on the earlier decades of the eighteenth century, more specifically on the activities of the South Sea Company's agents “on the ground” in the Americas. In so doing, she tells the compelling stories of individual actors who blurred many lines—personal, political, religious, commercial—across the British and Spanish empires as they angled to exploit the well-known asiento contract of 1713 to their own respective advantages. National interests sometimes were advanced by British traders and the Spaniards whom they dealt with...

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