- Paperback: 496 pages
- Publisher: Grove Press; First Trade Paper edition (May 6, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0802144160
- ISBN-13: 978-0802144164
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.2 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 153 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #86,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World First Trade Paper Edition
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Superb . . . [A] significant contribution . . . The chronological range of Bernstein’s book is staggering. . . . A Splendid Exchange is a work of which Adam Smith and Max Weber would have approved . What really marks Bernstein out is his talent in understanding, and then explaining, international commercial linkages.” Paul Kennedy, Foreign Affairs
Sparkling Fascinating One freewheeling historical passage follows another A Splendid Exchange is saved from any possible tedium by its feast of contrarian conclusions, its broad historical sweep, and, especially, its vivid characters.” Businessweek
Highly entertaining In an era when trade is defined by interminable World Trade Organization talks and offers nothing more romantic than slab-sided container ships ploughing between nondescript ports, William Bernstein’s book is like a trip to the movies to watch Johnny Depp swinging through the rigging.” Hugh Carnegy, Financial Times
Rollicking Mr. Bernstein whisks his reader on a tumultuous journey .A Splendid Exchange is a timely and readable reminder that the desire to trade is not only one of the oldest human instincts but also the cause of many of the most important developments in our shared history .For anyone wanting a painless primer in the ideas of Adam Smith, David Ricardo, or more recent economists, such as Paul Samuelson, this is the place to find it.” The Economist
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 rolefor better and for worseas we move into the future. Politicians take heed!” Arthur Laffer, founder and chairman, Laffer Associates
A Splendid Exchange is really much more than a history of trade. In William Bernstein’s deft treatment, it becomes pretty much a history of the world. The age-old urge to profit by buying low and selling high led to empires, wars, trade restrictions, andmore recentlyviolent protests against economic and financial globalization. Bernstein’s vast knowledge of trade’s past is great preparation for dealing effectively with today’s controversies about its future.” Richard Sylla, Henry Kaufman Professor of the History of Financial Institutions and Markets, and Professor of Economics, NYU’s 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 amusedand 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
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 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”: One Family’s True Life Adventure in the Global Economy
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 (no relation), author of Against the Gods and Wedding of the Waters
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
Financial theorist and historian Bernstein is equally at home plumbing the romantic dawn of trade or untwisting the mind-wracking complexity of modern international commerce. . . . An excellent exposition of key factors in a perennial economic conundrum.Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
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As Adam Smith had it in "Wealth of Nations," trade is an activity in which both parties benefit. Given that England is particularly adapted to raising sheep, the Baltics to growing wheat, and Portugal to making wine, and that people in all three places want to enjoy all three products, it only makes sense that they should trade.
Bernstein describes the routes, the vehicles and the products that have been traded throughout history. Overland traders have gone by foot, used every imaginable kind of pack animal, and more recently used a variety of ox- and horse-drawn conveyances, then trains and today airplanes. Maritime traders throughout history have continued to advance sailing techniques.
Along the way improvements and trade have had a vast impact on world history. Ukraine, where I live, entered the history books in Greek times. Attica was unable to feed itself, and Ukraine's grain was a valuable import. Troy, which dates back more than one millennium BC, was important because it stood at the entrance to the Sea of Marmara en route to the Black Sea and Ukraine's granaries. Ukraine and Poland were major trade routes during the first millennium A.D. The high technology of the time was Viking long boats which were very efficient in traveling up the Dnieper and Dniester rivers and then down the Vistula to the Baltic Sea. Kyiv and Lviv are situated along these routes.
However, the clever Italians, Spanish and Portuguese improved ocean navigation. Portuguese caravels were more efficient at long-distance trade – they involved no overland portage - and Western Europe grew faster than Eastern largely as a result of their ability to take advantage of local specializations. Italy excelled in glassmaking, Belgium was expert at making cloth, England at growing wool for that cloth.
The age of discovery ushered in by the Portuguese radically remade the world. Western ships were able to bring spices from Indonesia and gold from Peru back home. Fortunes were made on world trade, and the fortunes of nations shifted. Human institutions were modified to meet the changing conditions. Joint stock companies such as the Dutch East Indies Company, the British East India Company and the Hudson's Bay Company formed to take advantage of the opportunities. The corporate structure allowed them to spread risk, which made it possible to amass the capital needed to exploit these tremendous opportunities. Insurance came into existence, with Lloyd's of London as a clearinghouse for ensuring merchant trade.
There are a large number of anecdotes that will stick in your mind. The phenomena and it describes is a foundation of Western civilization, as many other authors such as Jared Diamond have found. Sociobiologists such as Cochran and Harpending, in The 10,000 Year Explosion: How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution, contend that it has affected our very evolution. To be effective in trade requires the ability to read and write, to handle numbers, and to learn foreign languages. These skills are highly associated with intelligence – and the groups that excelled in world trade such as the Parsis of India and the Jews appear to have more intelligent over the course of history as successful traders thrived and the less capable ones fell by the wayside.
This book is entertaining and well written. It should be part of any student's knowledge of world history.
Despite this limited viewpoint, I would recommend this book to other students or people interested in history. It is interesting to see how much of an impact trade has on the world. For example, Bernstein describes the effects of trade on social systems, disease, political power, and technology. In addition, his purpose is fully completed. Bernstein's goal in writing this book was to explain how commerce shaped the world. He does this very effectively, especially through his writing style. He writes about an instance in which trade affected the world, and then takes it a step further to explain how that effect can still be seen today.
In the end, the book becomes more than a history of economy. It is a history of the world, simply relayed through an economic stance. The comparisons in it, such as free trade to mercantilism, are interesting and detailed, and add to the credibility of the author. All of the information in the book, not just the major things, is also very detailed. For example, the author does not only describe trading, he describes its impact and its products' impact. A key example of this is the section on Opium Wars, which shows this political and economic conflict through the lens of trade. The well-researched, historically accurate book is definitely a good review of world history. Aside from its limited point of view, it is a wonderful, eye-opening description of trade and its impact, which are still things that dominate the global economy.