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A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World Hardcover – Bargain Price, April 11, 2008
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"Excellent . . . Bernstein is equally at home plumbing the romantic dawn of trade or untwisting the mind-wracking complexity of modern international commerce." -- Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Superb . . . [A] significant contribution . . . A Splendid Exchange is a work of which Adam Smith and Max Weber would have approved." -- Paul Kennedy, Foreign Affairs
"Timely and informative . . . Fascinating and surprisingly exciting . . . A saga of epic proportions." -- Booklist
From the Inside Flap
--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 illuminates modern debates in a sweeping history of international trade, weaving skillfully between rollicking adventures and scholarship. His history of trade from the ancients to the present is a story of our irrepressible urge to exchange goods, which in turn fostered exchanges of art, science, and ideas. The story of trade is the story of humankind; all in all, a happy story indeed."
--Pietra Rivoli, author of The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy
"Think contentious debate over globalization is something new? Think again. With a staggering understanding of the role of trade in history and a storyteller's touch for illuminating its human impact, William Bernstein takes us back to the days of `ghost ships' and perilous land journeys to explain how age-old debates over trade's winners and losers shape today's bitter divisions over free trade and protectionism. Along the way, Bernstein uncovers the roots of Sino-American trade tensions and explains how century-old backlashes over free trade continue to reverberate as the world's nations become ever more connected to each other through commerce. Bernstein has given us a master's insights into the past to help us understand an issue of deep divisions in the present age."
--Sara Bongiorni, author of A Year without "Made in China"
"Bernstein's powerful book demonstrates that trade is a fascinating, pervasive, and often dominant factor in human history. But Bernstein also provides us with memorable stories about nations around the world and through the centuries. Economics, sociology, military strategy, and even health care are here, as well as a striking group of vivid personalities. The book is not just essential reading; it is fun all the way."
--Peter L. Bernstein, author of Against the Gods
"Bill Bernstein is a funny, lively storyteller who engages us with rich stories that tell how international trade and economic history have evolved together from the Stone Age on. This book is a wonderful way to learn history, geography and economics. As I read it, I felt like a kid reading about Uncle Scrooge's adventures among old civilizations in strange lands, all the while harvesting ideas for my classes."
--Ed Tower, Professor of Economics, Duke University
Top Customer Reviews
To these, add another essential strand - encyclopedic knowledge of world history - and then Bernstein's ability to weave it all into an engaging tale. He knows how to clarify abstract points with apposite stories, which range from exotic historical figures to everyday kitchen items. The writing entertains while the thinking enlightens.
A Splendid Exchange illuminates more than you would expect. Consider military history: if you think of history as a chronicle of war, here you will learn just how much of that conflict resulted from trade agendas, in ancient times as well as modern. An example is the discussion of geographical "choke points"; I had never before understood how big a role they played in causing historical wars, nor had I understood the role they are likely to play in our own era.Read more ›
That aside, the book did present a fairly comprehensive overview of the topic, and was relatively easy and enjoyable to read. It helped me solidify the links between different economic and geopolitical events. I would say that the authors strong suit is in economics more than history... some of his facts are inaccurate. But as a general overview it succeeds.
Begin with the long sweep of world trading history;add its remarkable relevance to the global issues in the headlines today; revel in the plethora of entertaining anecdotes of personalities and events, large and small; then mix with a graceful writing style that turns an educational treatise into a suspenseful page-turner. Result: a book as good as--if not better than--any other book you'll read in 2008.
John C. Bogle
That trade has always existed and that it is beneficial is not exactly a new idea, but in Bernstein's account he gives it a new primacy. Trade can be said to be war by other means. Countries can acquire goods and materials peacefully rather than belligerently. Bernstein emphasizes that trade has always been and always will be a great deterrent to war. If wars have loudly made history, trade has done so quietly in influencing its course.
This book can be read a resounding defense of the principle of comparative advantage in that trade always benefits all parties involved. (Granted that this principle is still debatable.) It shows how countries, regions, and individuals sought to possess goods and resources that they could not produce or acquire locally. The history of global trade is vast, but Bernstein focuses mainly on the pre-modern age, dealing more with the commodities of the pre-industrial world.
Toward the end of the book, Bernstein discusses some of the issues of global trade today. He concedes that globalization has not benefited everyone uniformly, indeed many of the workers of the industrial world have lost their jobs to offshoring. However, in the aggregate, trade has created economic growth and wealth.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This particular copy is good as new. It's a fascinating read, if you're interested in this topic.Published 2 months ago by PHD711
From the silk road, ships with sails, the opium trade, Hoovers's policies, and finally the WTO protests of 1999, this marvelous book covers both the history and effects of... Read morePublished 4 months ago by Morgan
I learned a lot of history that sets the stage for the world we live in now. I highly recommend this book.Published 5 months ago by Perry Phillips
An interesting primer, well researched (though better informed critics disagree) and well presented (I listened to the audio book) history of trade. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Dr. D. Watkins
Kind of like Henry Kissinger's Diplomacy in its detailing of events.Published 5 months ago by Subrat Mainali
Bernstein does a marvelous job of including commerce and trade into world history. The reader has many "aha" moments learning just why some modern-day relationships,... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Ronald D. Ellermeier