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.
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.
The mid-1980s saw the launch of the ‘Studies in Imperialism’ series. As outlined by the general editor, John M. MacKenzie, the main concept behind this has been that ‘imperialism as a cultural phenomenon has as significant an effect on the dominant as on the subordinate societies’.
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.
A stitch up is a devious act that someone does to someone else. It may involve putting a person or organization, perhaps, in a position where they will be blamed for something they did not do or it might mean manipulating a situation, in unseen ways, to one’s own advantage.
Ask Americans when their country became the world’s dominant power and chances are most will point to the hard-fought victory in the Second World War. But as Adam Tooze shows in his latest work, that shift occurred a generation earlier and before American forces had even fired a shot in what was once called the Great War.
How does one define empire? What are the characteristics of a successful empire? These two questions arise foremost after reading John Darwin’s monumental masterpiece After Tamerlane. In nine succinct chapters with informative titles, Darwin encompassed 600 years of global history, supported by illustrations and maps and for those interested, suggestions for further reading.
Matthew Karp’s This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy seeks to explain the worldview of elite Southern slave-owners in the antebellum era.
Lee Grieveson’s bold historical analysis of the relationship between media and capital is nothing if not timely. As I write, a new wave of consolidation among traditional telecommunication and media companies in America is concentrating unprecedented wealth and power in the hands of an ever-narrowing elite.