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A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the Worldby William J. Bernstein
Synopses & Reviews
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 this sweeping narrative history of world trade, 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 American trade battles of the early twentieth century to the modern era of televisions from Taiwan, lettuce from Mexico, and T-shirts from China. 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.
"Regarding contemporary globalization, Bernstein sees it as the logical consequence of centuries of market expansion, but he acknowledges that it must bring pain as well as prosperity. Timely and informative." Booklist
"An excellent exposition of key factors in a perennial economic conundrum." Kirkus Reviews
"A Splendid Exchange is really much more than a history of trade. In William Bernstein's deft treatment, it becomes pretty much a history of the world. The age-old urge to profit by buying low and selling high led to empires, wars, trade restrictions, and — more recently — violent protests against economic and financial globalization. Bernstein's vast knowledge of trade's past is great preparation for dealing effectively with today's controversies about its future." Richard Sylla, Henry Kaufman Professor of the History of Financial Institutions and Markets, and Professor of Economics, NYU Stern School of Business
"In A Splendid Exchange, Bill Bernstein has further burnished his credentials as both an economic historian and a felicitous writer. He has given us an eye-opening, brilliantly researched, anecdote-laced, and exciting-to-read history of global trade. Readers of this compelling saga will be intellectually rewarded, enticed, and amused — and more sensitively attuned to the challenges of today's version of the globalization that has driven so much of civilization's economic growth and social progress." John C. Bogle, founder, the Vanguard Group
"A Splendid Exchange is filled with adroit observations on the evolution of trade from the ancient world to today. Bernstein draws upon a vast historical context to show how trade's development is part of society's natural progression toward prosperity, and he makes a convincing case that trade and trade policy have been the catalyst for the development of ambitious nations. He correctly asserts that we must be aware of how it has shaped the past because it will continue to have a pivotal role — for better and for worse — as we move into the future. Politicians take heed!" Arthur Laffer, founder and chairman, Laffer Associates
Bernstein tells the extraordinary story of global commerce, from its prehistoric origins to the myriad controversies surrounding it today. Lively, authoritative, and astonishing in scope, the riveting narrative views trade and globalization as an evolutionary process as old as war and religion.
About the Author
William J. Bernstein is a financial theorist and historian whose books include The Birth of Plenty and The Four Pillars of Investing. He lives in North Bend, Oregon.
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