By William J. Bernstein
A sweeping narrative heritage of global trade--from Mesopotamia in 3000 B.C. to the firestorm over globalization today--that brilliantly explores trade's colourful and contentious previous and gives new insights into its future
Adam Smith wrote that guy has an intrinsic "propensity to truck, barter, and alternate something for another." yet how did exchange evolve to the purpose the place we don't think carefully approximately biting into an apple from the opposite facet of the area?
In A fantastic Exchange, William J. Bernstein tells the intense tale of worldwide trade from its prehistoric origins to the myriad controversies surrounding it this day. He starts in historic Mesopotamia, the place early investors floated barley, copper, and ivory up and down the Tigris and Euphrates, and he strikes directly to the Greeks, whose grain alternate helped ignite the Peloponnesian conflict. He transports readers from the ships that carried silk from China to Rome on monsoon gales within the moment century to the increase and fall of the Portuguese monopoly in spices within the 16th; from the frenzy for sugar that introduced the British to Jamaica in 1655 to the yankee exchange battles of the early 20th century; from key options equivalent to steam, metal, and refrigeration to the fashionable period of televisions from Taiwan, lettuce from Mexico, and T-shirts from China.
Along the best way, Bernstein, who's either a proficient storyteller and an entire fiscal theorist, brings to lifestyles a gallery of attention-grabbing characters and synthesizes millions of years of history--social, cultural, political, army, and economic--into a wealthy and fascinating narrative. He explores how our age-old dependency on alternate has contributed to our planet's agricultural bounty, motivated highbrow development, and made us either wealthy and weak. Bernstein concludes that even supposing the impulse to exchange frequently takes a backseat to xenophobia and struggle, it's finally a strength for stable between international locations, and he argues that societies are way more profitable and good once they are enthusiastic about lively exchange with their buddies.
Lively, authoritative, and awesome in scope, A well suited Exchange is a riveting narrative that perspectives exchange and globalization now not in political phrases, yet really as an evolutionary technique as previous as battle and religion--a ancient constant--that will proceed to foster the expansion of highbrow capital, scale back the realm, and propel the trajectory of the human species.
Includes 23 maps and forty black-and-white illustrations.
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Additional resources for A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World
Even along main roads in the heart of the Egyptian Fatimid Empire, a letter of safe conduct did not protect against bedouin raids. Weeks on a heaving, rancid deck were still preferable to months on the lookout for brigands from the back of a don key or camel. The Geniza papers also describe the high expense of land transport. For most of recorded history, the primary manufactured trade commod ity was cloth. The total transport costs from Cairo to Tunisia for a bale of "purple" (a camel's load of textiles, weighing roughly five hundred pounds) was eight gold dinars.
Legend has it that a navigator by the name of Hippalus "discovered" the Arabian Gulf trade winds (hence the origin of the term), although they were undoubtedly also well known to Indian and Arab sail ors. The willingness of the Greeks to drive themselves directly across vast open stretches of the Indian Ocean before the terrifying seasonal mon soons, rather than creep along thousands of miles of endless coasts, was a major factor in the expansion of long-range maritime trade. 16 After clearing Bab el Mandeb in late spring or late summer, the mariner headed west on the following wind.
12 The excavation of Dilmun provides a tantalizing, and often highly personal, window on what the Sumerian trade in grain and copper in the Persian Gulf might have looked like. The town sat on an island and was supplied with a generous spring issuing what the ancients called "sweet," or fresh, water. By 2000 BC, the city walls enclosed an area almost the size of the biggest Mesopotamian city, Ur. In its center sat a municipal square, one end of which opened on the sea gate; at the other end stood a building filled with seals and scales, almost certainly a customs house.
A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World by William J. Bernstein