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At first sight this looks like another of those increasingly common commodity books, some of which are intended to be global in scope, and which include studies of chocolate, sugar, cod, salt and many others (digestible or not!). As Riello points out, commodities are a good way to tell a global story since many of them have been traded throughout the world for centuries.
If we survey the historical profession at the moment, there are plenty of academic squabbles going on, but the great debates that once divided historians seem to be in short supply. Time was when contests over the standard of living during the industrial revolution or about post-modernism and its application to the study of history would drive scholars into a frenzy of position taking.
The Making of the Middle Class: Toward a Transnational History grew out of two panels on the middle class at the American Historical Association meetings in 2004 and a related conference at the University of Maryland in 2006. Taken together, the 16 papers and three commentaries included in this book have the feel of a big academic meeting.
Tijl Vanneste has written an important book about the functioning of commercial networks during the mid 18th century. The author goes beyond national boundaries, as he carefully analyzes how a cross-cultural, cross-religious, and cross-gender diamond merchant network operated between the cities of Antwerp, London, Amsterdam and Lisbon.
Ten Years of Debate on the Origins of the Great Divergence between the Economies of Europe and China during the Era of Mercantilism and Industrialization
1. Smith, Marx and Weber
The second decade of the 21st century would seem to be an auspicious moment for historians of capitalism. The sudden and for many unexpected rise of China as a major economic power would appear to provide historians with opportunities to rethink the history of capitalism, especially with regard to the place of the state and the market in its development.
During the past two decades, Robert Allen’s researches into English agriculture have fundamentally reshaped our understanding of the nature and pace of rising agricultural productivity between the late middle ages and the 19th century.
How do we conceptualise the African diaspora? The forced migration through the slave trade and its impact on the cultures of origin that slaves brought with them to the Americas has constituted an important area of academic research since the pioneering work of Melville Herskovits and Roger Bastide.
Marcel van der Linden’s book ‘Workers of the World: Essays toward a Global Labor History’ is an encyclopaedic, thought provoking, tour de force on the field of labour relations that scholars from different disciplines should read (and possibly internalise).
Breakfasting in bed, Maynard Keynes recalled the immense scope of the laissez-faire world of the Pax Britannica at its zenith in the summer of 1914. ‘The inhabitant of London could order by telephone, sipping his tea … the various products of the whole earth, in such quantities as he might see fit, and reasonably expect their early delivery at his doorstep; he could ...