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26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Europe Won?, May 19, 2000
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This review is from: The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy (The Princeton Economic History of the Western World) (Hardcover)
In this excellent, tightly reasoned, and data-filled book, Kenneth Pomerantz argues that Europe grew rich, industrial, and mighty after 1500 largely because of expansion, colonization and exploitation of much of the world (and also by making use of strategically convenient resources at home). Conversely, China, economically and scientifically more developed than Europe as of 1000 or 1100, fell behind after 1500. Only Europe developed what Randall Collins calls "rapid development science" in his work THE SOCIOLOGY OF PHILOSOPHIES; the Chinese, Indians, and even Native American civilizations had excellent science, but based on very different plans, and they never made the breakthrough to the rapid development institutions. Pomerantz may paint a bit too rosy a picture of China at times, but the point is true enough. This book should absolutely end the facile racist and "culturist" explanations of S. Huntington, D. Landes and their ilk. Europe was not somehow superior all along; it took rapid advantage of a special situation. There may be more to the story--many (including Landes--who is right in this case) have pointed out that Europe's division into many rival states helped, because several of them found it to their strategic advantage to be ahead of the others in gaining information and developing technology. There will be ongoing debate about what are the drivers of Europe's sudden burst, but, after this book, no one can afford to ignore China's successes and the difficulties they make for conventional models.
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E. N. Anderson
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   

Location: Riverside, CA USA

Top Reviewer Ranking: 4,120