By William J. Bernstein
A sweeping narrative historical past of global trade--from Mesopotamia in 3000 B.C. to the firestorm over globalization today--that brilliantly explores trade's colourful and contentious earlier and offers new insights into its future
Adam Smith wrote that guy has an intrinsic "propensity to truck, barter, and trade something for another." yet how did exchange evolve to the purpose the place we don't consider carefully approximately biting into an apple from the opposite aspect of the area?
In A fantastic Exchange, William J. Bernstein tells the extreme tale of worldwide trade from its prehistoric origins to the myriad controversies surrounding it at the present time. He starts in historical 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 yank exchange battles of the early 20th century; from key suggestions resembling steam, metal, and refrigeration to the trendy period of televisions from Taiwan, lettuce from Mexico, and T-shirts from China.
Along the way in which, Bernstein, who's either a talented storyteller and an entire financial theorist, brings to existence a gallery of interesting characters and synthesizes hundreds of thousands of years of history--social, cultural, political, army, and economic--into a wealthy and interesting narrative. He explores how our age-old dependency on alternate has contributed to our planet's agricultural bounty, inspired highbrow growth, and made us either filthy rich and weak. Bernstein concludes that even supposing the impulse to exchange usually takes a backseat to xenophobia and struggle, it really is finally a strength for solid between international locations, and he argues that societies are way more profitable and sturdy once they are inquisitive about energetic exchange with their pals.
Lively, authoritative, and fantastic in scope, A fantastic Exchange is a riveting narrative that perspectives alternate and globalization no longer in political phrases, yet quite as an evolutionary method as outdated as struggle and religion--a old constant--that will proceed to foster the expansion of highbrow capital, cut back the realm, and propel the trajectory of the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 info for A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World
About fifty thousand years ago, small numbers of them probably migrated via Palestine into the Fertile Crescent and Europe. At some point prior to this trek, language developed, enabling more complex, uniquely "human" behavior: adroitly carved animal bone and antler tools, cave paintings, sculpture, and refined missile technologies, such as the atlatl, a specially crafted stick used to improve the range and accuracy of the spear. These increasingly sophisticated skills probably made possible yet another activity characteristic of modern humans: long-distance trade in the new weapons, tools, and knickknacks.
This sum was equivalent to about four months' living expenses for a medieval Egyptian lower-middle-class fam ily. Half of this cost covered the relatively short 120-mile ground segment from Cairo to Alexandria, and the other half the twelve hundred-mile sea route from Alexandria to Tunisia. Thus, mile for mile, ground transport was ten times more expensive than maritime transport. Given the enormous costs, risks, and discomfort of the dry route, merchants chose it only when they could not go by sea: for example, when the Mediterranean was "closed" for the winter season.
But instead of paying a few dollars and handing the package over to a brown-clad clerk, this ancient shipment consumed two months (including the return trip) of a single trader's labor—very roughly, about $5,000 to $10,000 in current value. With the advent of agriculture, this new maritime technology spread to settled farmers, who adopted the skin-and-frame design for river travel. A pattern of commerce commenced that would remain unchanged for 24 A Splendid Exchange thousands of years: traders from advanced farming communities would transport grain, farm animals, and basic manufactured items such as cloth and tools downriver to exchange for the wares, mainly animal skins, of the hunter-gatherers.
A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World by William J. Bernstein