The Origins of the Modern World: A Global and Ecological Narrative from the Fifteenth to the Twenty-first Century (World Social Change)
This clearly written and engrossing book presents a global narrative of the origins of the modern world from 1400 to the present. Unlike most studies, which assume that the "rise of the West" is the story of the coming of the modern world, this history, drawing upon new scholarship on Asia, Africa, and the New World, constructs a story in which those parts of the world play major roles.
Robert B. Marks defines the modern world as one marked by industry, the nation state, interstate warfare, a large and growing gap between the wealthiest and poorest parts of the world, and an escape from "the biological old regime." He explains its origins by emphasizing contingencies (such as the conquest of the New World); the broad comparability of the most advanced regions in China, India, and Europe; the reasons why England was able to escape from common ecological constraints facing all of those regions by the 18th century; and a conjuncture of human and natural forces that solidified a gap between the industrialized and non-industrialized parts of the world.
Now in a new edition that brings the saga of the modern world to the present, the book considers how and why the United States emerged as a world power in the twentieth century and became the sole superpower by the twenty-first century. Once again arguing that the rise of the United States to global hegemon was contingent, not inevitable, Marks also points to the resurgence of Asia and the vastly changed relationship of humans to the environment that may, in the long run, overshadow any political and economic milestones of the past hundred years. E-mail email@example.com for a username and password to access the instructor site
An Innovative Pedagogical Device!
By Textcontext "JMP" - February 18, 2007
Each semester, history instructors must select the required reading materials for the next semester's classes. A conscientious teacher might drown in the many options. There are always new titles to fill the captive demand for required purchases. Increasingly, these options come with new bells, whistles, digitized archival collections, and promises of the latest breaking scholarship. That text over there provides a web based bibliography, this one a helpful and hyperlinked timeline. Over here we have a "pedagogical media system" interfacing with the lecture through PowerPoint slides, and boasting a Pod Cast library for additional streaming course content.
Tending to be an easy "mark" for these techno enhancements, I strive to find new ways to cram more content into any history unit. Yet I have been begging any press that would listen for one simple innovation--a textbook. Unlike most available textbooks though, this one would be interesting. It would lead students toward... read more
Very good high level overview of history
By Michael J. Scholtes - May 26, 2009
This book strikes a good balance between readability and comprehensiveness: it is thinner than most history textbooks, and more conceptual than detail-oriented. What I found most interesting was the approach of viewing major trends in history (colonization, trade networks, wars) through the lens of economics. Most history I have read has been more about what happened, and has attempted to explain causes in terms of personality, religion, or culture, but not succeeding very well. Viewing history in terms of economics makes this book more about *why* things happened as they did. I loved that approach. Perhaps some historians (like the authors of the other books) would complain that such an approach is overly simplistic. I would disagree; economics seems to be, to history, what conservation of energy is to physics: a simple concept that shapes everything else.
A Book That Puts It Together
By Donald J. Sage - April 27, 2008
Here's a historian who finally makes the connections! Mexican silver mines, Chinese silk and monetary policy, Indian cotton, tea, opium, railroads and coal in England. Food for thought and thoughts on food.
Why are America and Europe on top? Certainly not because of genetics or virtue. An entertaining but sobering read. I wish I could take Robert Marks' undergraduate course. Must be a great teacher!
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