- Paperback: 416 pages
- Publisher: University of California Press; First Printed edition (July 31, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0520214749
- ISBN-13: 978-0520214743
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 20 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #422,327 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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ReORIENT: Global Economy in the Asian Age First Printed Edition
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"A hugely important contribution to the critique of Eurocentric history. . . . This book is powerful and important. Read it."--"Journal of Historical Geography
From the Author
This book outlines and analyzes the global economy and its sectoral and regional division of labor and cyclical dynamic from 1400 to 1800. The evidence and argument are that within this global economy Asians and particularly Chinese were preponderant, no more "traditional" than Europeans, and in fact largely far less so. The historical documentation poses an 'emperor has no clothes' challenge to all received Eurocentric historiography and social theory from Montesquieu, Marx and Weber, or Toynbee and Polanyi, to Rostow, Braudel and Wallerstein. The books's global economic analysis offers a more holistic theoretical alternative. 'The Rise of the West' was not due to any 'European Miracle exceptionalism' that allegedly permitted it to pull itself up by its own bootstraps as Weberians have contended. Nor did Europe build a 'European world-economy around itself" a la Braudel and thereby as per Marx and Wallerstein [as well as Frank's own WORLD ACCUMULATION 1492-1789] initiating a European centered 'Modern Capitalist World-System' primarily by exploiting the wealth of its American and African colonies. Instead, Europe used its American silver to buy itself marginal entry into the long since existing world market in Asia, which was much larger, more productive and competitive, continued to expand much faster until 1800, and was able to support a rate of population growth in Asia that was than double that of Europe until 1750.
Then changing world economic/ demographic/ ecological relations and relative factor prices in the competitive global economy resulted in the temporary 'Decline of the East' and the opportunity for the also temporary 'The Rise of the West'. Europe took advantage of this world economic opportunity through import substitution, export promotion and technological change to become Newly Industrializing Economies after 1800, as is again happening today in East Asia. That region is now REgaining its 'traditional' dominance in the global economy, with the Chinese 'Middle Kingdom' again at its 'center.'
COMMENTS ON ReOrient BY REFEREES AND REVIEWERS
"Frank shows how Marx and Weber got it all wrong. This book is conceptually that important. A fundamental rethinking absolutely essential to understanding world history."
-ALBERT BERGESEN University of Arizona
"This will be an extremely important book of sufficient originality and importance to have a major impact. It could not be more ambitious."
- KENNETH POMERANZ University of California at Irvine
"The author redefines our baseline for assessing the 'rise' of Europe. I believe this book could become a benchmark study."
- BIN WONG University of California at Irvine
"A book for the millennium ... can be a landmark book that shapes substantially the scholarship and understanding of the next generation of researchers. It should have an immediate impact."
- MARK SELDEN State University of New York
"Andre Gunder Frank's ReORIENT is a heroic effort to reconstruct our conceptions of the world economy in the early modern age. A brilliant theory - Frank's single-mided, relentless, and compelling organic model achieves coherence and has much to offer."
- PETER PERDUE Massachussetts Institute of Technology
"If challenging received wisdom is a trademark, this book is written as the mother of all challenges. The immense power of the book rests on the ability to provoke and force one to rethink many facets of history that have been taken for granted for a long long time."
- HARBANS MUKHIA Indian Express
"ReOrient's biggest virtue: it forces the reader to at least look differently at world history. This impressive and illuminating analysis sets out to challenge the mother of all orthodoxies that Europe discovered capitalism and industrialisation and that what followed and is happening and will happen is essentially a fallout of this European preeminence."
- SAUBHIK CHAKABARTI The Statesman
"This is a brave book, brave in the academic as well as the personal sense. It insists on a completely necessary reorientation of academic and political views. It will prove to be compulsory reading."
- JACK GOODY St. Johns College, Cambridge
"ReORIENT deserves to become an instant classic."
- MARTIN LEWIS Duke University --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
Gunder Frank also speculates that East Asia's present economic growth and potential will eventually help it regain economic hegemony in the not too distant future.
A couple points I'd like to add to Frank's thesis explained in other reviews.
1) I work for one of the major trans-Pacific ocean shipping companies. The company was founded in California in 1848 and sold to the Singapore government in 1997. (Shipping going East)
2) US-bound shipments are full of manufactured goods. Asia-bound ships are filled with wastepaper or are largely empty. The West continues to produce nothing that Asia really wants. Where in times past, most of the Asian-bound shipments from England and the Netherlands were boats filled with silver and gold, today we "ship silver" to Asia in the form of electronic fund transfers. Given the trade deficit the US alone has with China and the rest of Asia, it seems only a matter of time before the Chinese start buying Manhattan and US assets the way the Japanese did in the 1980s.
3) Frank's book adds an interesting background to the history of the Roman Empire. After subjugating Europe, Rome moved eastward under Constantine the Great. First, Constantinople provided a more defensible position for the New Rome (indeed where the western capital - Rome -- fell in the 5th century, the eastern capital - Constantinople -- continued until the 15th century, despite being "on the way" as it were for invading Huns and other invading armies). But perhaps more importantly, all the commercial action was centered in the East. Moving the capital eastward took it out of the backwater of Italy and moved it closer to the overland trade routes with the Asia).
4)That the East was far wealthier than the West can again be seen in microcosmic perspective during the 4th Crusade. Western soldiers had never imagined a city as wealthy as Constantinople. When they saw it they had to have it. The West, especially Venice, did to Constantinople in 1205 as the British did to Bengal in 1857 and the Americans have been doing to the Native Americans since they got here. They took by force, not by superior ethic, religion, tradition, or racial superiority.
The book itself, despite its "must read status" and historical importance, is very poorly written and highly repetitious. If you read the concluding few pages, you will have the main points of the argument. Read the rest of the book if you want the details. And Frank provides plenty of detail, footnotes, references, etc.
All in all, this book is important for understanding the world's past as well as the contours of the future. I wonder how long it will take for the pendulum to swing back to Asia. Chinese-US relations are getting interesting, aren't they?
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