Rather than dry academic analysis, Bernstein, in his second book (after Four Pillars of Investing), has created a vital, living text-a cogent, timely journey through the economic history of the modern world. He identifies institutions ("the framework within which human beings think, interact and carry on business") as the engines of prosperity. Boiled down to four (property rights, the scientific method, capital markets and communications), these institutions come from ideas and practices that bubbled forth over the course of hundreds of years. Bernstein is clear in explaining that the civilizations that develop and implement these systems thrive, and that those that do not, perish. The Spanish empire, for example, had most of these but lacked effective capital markets. When the gold from the New World dried up, the empire essentially went broke. By 1840 the British had all of these institutions in place, economic growth exploded and the lot of the common man was immensely improved. Today, the U.S. faces the challenge of sustaining prosperity in the face of rapid technological change. Though fairly Eurocentric in focus, Bernstein's narrative tracks the development of these essential ingredients to prosperity over a global landscape-the great dynasties of China get plenty of attention here, as do the Japanese. Solid writing and poignant assessments of the economic players throughout time give texture and flavor to Bernstein's argument: he describes the medieval relationship between the various European kingdoms and the Vatican as "a holy shakedown racket." Packed with information and ideas, Bernstein's book is an authoritative economic history, accessible and thoroughly entertaining.
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With the advent of computers, we tend to think that technology is changing at a more rapid pace than ever. Bernstein, a noted financial expert, reminds us that the invention of the locomotive and the telegraph prior to 1850 had a much greater impact on the lives and well-being of the people of that era. According to his analysis, there was little change in the world's standard of living from the dawn of recorded history all the way to 1820, with technological progress moving in reverse as often as forward. In a very solid review of economic history, Bernstein examines the four factors that fell into place to create a formula for human progress: property rights, scientific rationalism, capital markets, and transportation and communication. From the rise of common law to the invention of the steam engine, from the creation of currencies to shipbuilding, this is an in-depth history of the rise of prosperity. It is topical, as well, examining the impact of economic progress on "happiness," trends in income inequality, and the opposing views of the Christian and Muslim mindsets. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Fascinating analysis that makes economic history come alive. The author's varied background, meticulous research weaves a compelling account of how and why innovation is the engine... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Dai Bach
If you want to understand both prosperity and poverty, this is the best book I have read.Published 5 months ago by Roger Dan Edwards
This is the second I have read by this author and I love his casual, rolling narratives on economic history topics.Published 6 months ago by Michael and Maja Doyle
A skillfully written page turner, as enjoyable to read as The Four Pillars of Investing. As a layman in the fields of economics and Western history, I enjoyed flipping through page... Read morePublished 7 months ago by matt simerson
Enjoyed this immensely. Fascinating history and clearly reasoned arguments as to why the West has it over the Rest. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Stever
an excellent lesson on how we did get rich and why...i take a couple of exceptions with the authors role of government, using a little critical thinking and deeper examination one... Read morePublished 10 months ago by robert mc adams
One of the best books I've read. A travelogue through time and around the world, showing how important travel, trade, and free enterprise are to the human spirit. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Barbara Cameron
This is an excellent book that finally explains what any country or group needs to do to encourage economic growth. Read morePublished 10 months ago by Joan Austin