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A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World

A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World

Scritto da William J. Bernstein

Narrato da Mel Foster


A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World

Scritto da William J. Bernstein

Narrato da Mel Foster

valutazioni:
4.5/5 (29 valutazioni)
Lunghezza:
17 ore
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Apr 25, 2008
ISBN:
9781400176694
Formato:
Audiolibro

Descrizione

Adam Smith wrote that man has an intrinsic "propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another." But how did trade evolve to the point where we don't think twice about biting into an apple from the other side of the world?



In A Splendid Exchange, William J. Bernstein tells the extraordinary story of global commerce from its prehistoric origins to the myriad controversies surrounding it today. He transports readers from ancient sailing ships that brought the silk trade from China to Rome in the second century to the rise and fall of the Portuguese monopoly in spices in the sixteenth; from the rush for sugar that brought the British to Jamaica in 1655 to the American trade battles of the early twentieth century; from key innovations such as steam, steel, and refrigeration to the modern era of televisions from Taiwan, lettuce from Mexico, and T-shirts from China.



Along the way, Bernstein examines how our age-old dependency on trade has contributed to our planet's agricultural bounty, stimulated intellectual progress, and made us both prosperous and vulnerable. Although the impulse to trade often takes a backseat to xenophobia and war, Bernstein concludes that trade is ultimately a force for good among nations, and he argues that societies are far more successful and stable when they are involved in vigorous trade with their neighbors.



Lively, authoritative, and astonishing in scope, A Splendid Exchange is a riveting narrative that views trade and globalization not in political terms, but rather as an evolutionary process as old as war and religion-a historical constant-that will continue to foster the growth of intellectual capital, shrink the world, and propel the trajectory of the human species.
Editore:
Pubblicato:
Apr 25, 2008
ISBN:
9781400176694
Formato:
Audiolibro


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4.6
29 valutazioni / 10 Recensioni
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Recensioni dei lettori

  • (4/5)
    A good book if not a great one that covers its subject in plenty of detail over an enormous time-span. There are plenty of juicy facts to add to your knowledge base alongside the core understanding of the sweeps of trade across the centuries and maybe a deeper understanding of what drove some of the early explorers and their backers.There are a few places where it gets slightly confusing and maybe over-long and some when you wonder if you've just read essentially the same thing a few pages back - particularly as the Europeans get a toe-hold on the Indian ocean, but these are excusable given the subject-matter.I did find this interesting coming from an American perspective and it made me wonder how many histories I've read written by Americans that aren't solely about America. For example, whilst the author wasn't US-centric, other than in his comparators - which is understandable, mixing up "British" and "English" or "Holland" and "Netherlands" in the same sentence did jar a little.Overall it is well worth the read and thus gets a solid 4 stars from me.
  • (4/5)
    Interested in commerce, history, and the results of what happens when different cultures meet? Read this book.
  • (5/5)
    There is a lot of information presented that I keep returning to as my brain makes connections between what I read in A Splendid Exchange and conversations I'm having or things I'm reading in the news, or issues that I'm dealing with at work. As a history of world trade, I found the language very engaging, the organization of information occasionally confusing, and the details and trivia presented fascinating. Bernstein presents information by general chronology and then by topic - so you may spend several pages reading about the textile trade over the course of 200 years, then jump back to the beginning of that 200-year window to start reading about the military maneuvers that went with the trade routs you were just introduced to. It occasionally made it difficult to place what was happening in time.It was interesting for me to see the similarities between what's happening now and what has happened before. We aren't really doing anything different, as people who trade for things, today than we were centuries ago. Technology has changed, but the goals of the endeavor have not.
  • (5/5)
    It's a very thorough look at how our world has been shaped by international trade, both intentionally (such as the creation of fashion by the East India Company in the 18th century, to increase the demand for its Indian cotton) to the unintentional (such as the Plague of Justinian, brought to the eastern Mediterranean Europe by the first opening of the overland silk route (and apparently an important factor in clearing the way for the rise of Islam a few generations later)).He comes down heavily on the side in favour of free trade, but doesn't ignore that there have always been those who have lost when trade barriers fall. The tone is occasionally almost chatty when he compares 16th century Mexican silk weavers to 21st century American auto-workers. (Both justifiably worried by cheaper Chinese imports.) He similarly compares modern-day bloggers with the 18th century pamphleteers. He even argues that America would have had a significantly larger share of international economy if GATT and similar free-trade endeavours hadn't been so successful - but the world economy would definitely have been much much smaller.Not to mention that free trade has a very strong correlation with peace. It's surely no coincidence that the only historically significant absence of war in Europe (these last 65 years) coincide with the European Common Market.
  • (5/5)
    Although I knew a few things about trade but what I knew was mainly from the European perspective e.g. the opening up of the spice trade with the Portugese and the Dutch but this book was far more free-ranging especially early trading in the middle East and China etc. There was much information to savour but Bernstein handles all of it in a consummate and interesting manner.
  • (4/5)
    A thought provoking book on the history of trade starting way back BC till current time. History is written by the victors; however when looked at through the eyes of an economist the voices of the others surface. His many insights will change/ challenge your understanding of why certain events occurred. One example is the Boston Tea Party which was spun as a patriotic act might really be merchants just trying to protect their jobs due to their tea costing much more than the English tea. On the negative side I found it slow at first and also hard to follow in the beginning. (Listened to it without the maps that come with the book). Book was written around concepts so time lines jumped with each new one.
  • (4/5)
    A good readable run through the history of trade, and how trade affects real life. It is excellent in parts, notably in earlier times, but is rushed towards the end, just as trade gets deeper, richer, and more complex. What clearly stands out is the human propensity to acquire things, especially novel or exotic things, which seems to encompass all ages and all cultures. I credit the author with having the sense to admit that trade does not do all things. Sometimes it doesn't bring prosperity. However, he zeroed in on the fundamental value of trade, in common with other forms of international intercourse, in bringing people together. What price peace? Good read.
  • (5/5)
    This is a first rate book, not just about trade, but how we interact in life and commerce. It brought to life why the greeks developed sea power, why spices were important to Portugal, and why trade is the lifelines of culture.
  • (5/5)
    Insightful and unbiased, the author has touched upon nearly all factors significant and insignificant that have shaped the world today. The book needs focus while listening but it's very informative. And kudos to the narrator for being lively and articulate.
  • (5/5)
    Today’s world trade network is very complex and affects every individual’s life. In “A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World”, William J. Bernstein makes the case that globalization is not new and has in fact played an important part in the world’s development throughout the ages. Bernstein draws upon his extensive knowledge of history and written accounts to weave a fascinating narrative of man’s participation in trade throughout the millennia. From ancient Sumer to modern times, Bernstein incorporates an astonishing amount of information into a lively, interesting novel which convincingly proves his thesis. Bernstein effectively shows how man since earliest times has an innate desire to barter and trade and that for better or worse, trade has and will continue to shape the world that we live in. Bernstein challenges the societal convention that rulers and religions were the primary drivers of nations and human development. He makes the case that it is man’s “propensity to trade and barter” that has shaped the world. “A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World” tells the history of the world through a different lens and changes how the reader views history. Bernstein correlates every event with an economic gain, trade rivalry, or trade blockage and provides an economic reason for most of the major wars in world history and the economic cause of their outcomes. Bernstein explains the building of the Athenian Empire for example, not as a despotic ruler’s quest for power, but as a necessity to keep vital trade routes open to the Black Sea. Every major historical event is explained by this commerce driven perspective. By challenging the reader to see the history of the world through the importance of man’s desire to trade, Bernstein changes the way the reader views history and enlightens our understanding of world events. “A Splendid Exchange” is a book worth recommending to a friend. William J. Bernstein is a masterful writer who has an extensive knowledge of history. Bernstein is able to incorporate a seemingly overwhelming amount of information over such a long period of time and over such an extensive part of the globe and weave it into a fascinating and easily comprehensive work that shows history from a new perspective. He winds the history of the world with the history of trade and gives the reader an economic perspective of the world which crosses all cultures and time periods. His brilliant reflection of the past provides examples and insight into the problems we as Homo sapiens have had to tackle in the past and will unavoidably face in the future.