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on January 19, 2012
Robert Marks' textbook narrates the flowing, interrelational nature of world history. From his ecological narrative approach history happens from a global (rather than Eurocentric) and processual(rather than event driven) scale. He tells the story of East meeting West, hating it; pulling back; lone traders, barbarians and militaries reopening trade relations; skirmishes; wars and cultural and technological systems advancing (or not). In all of that--nature and people live life.

Marks' generates his logic from a wide assortment of sociology, history and scientific sources. His ecological narrative is a synthesis of Andre Gunder Frank's and Kenneth Pomeranz' inclusion of China in global modernization. The global scale of the narrative counters the Eurocentrism that has propagandized most scholarly efforts in world history. Oddly I do not find a reference to Klaus Krippendorf's "Ecological Narratives" (Krippendorf, 2000). Krippendorf was my inspiration to investigate the potential for ecological narratives to tell of the enduring power of human agency to create global change rather than the classic historical methodolgocial tunnel vision on political and military events.

Your students will gain from this interrelational global history. The historical narrative provides a clear framework to place people and events in the great stream of human network expansion and integration. This book made history interesting to me. Since I read this book I have been on a historical biography and documentary film binge. Political Science courses will gain from the clarity of the integrated systems of trade development, technological advancement and political change. Although, Comparative Politics may need to consider a new scale. Comparative Politics could jettison the fragmented state centric resarch approach to focus on Comparative Global Networks that impact other global and regional systems and in turn shape national politics. A prime example would be the recent international economic restructuring that has since 2008 moved power away from the G8 state executives. The movement of global decisionmaking to the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors of the G20 happened only with technological advancement and finanical networking. The unforeseen impacts of economic networking and restructuring created vulnerabilities at every level of political, distributive, and financial systems (derivatives, mortgages, employment, labor rights...). The personal tragedies brought on by the financial "black swans" are telling examples of the potential value of conceptualizing global history from the scale of the ecological narrative.

Cites
Krippendorf, K. 2000. Ecological Narratives:Reclaiming the voice of theorized others. In Ciprut, J.(ed).2000. The Art of the Feud: Reconceptualizing International Relations. Praeger Publishing. Connecticutt. Pp 1-26
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on June 30, 2012
I've used this work as one book among many in a "Historical Geography" course that largely focuses on why Europe came to dominate the world after ca. 1500 Common Era. It's still something to marvel at--how did Europe go ahead and conquer / dominate / subordinate much of the known world by about 1900 or 1920?

Some of my students like it a lot. It's not my favorite book, but it's a quick readable polemic about the state of the world economy ca. 1450 and after. It summarizes some of the research of Andre Gunder Frank and also / especially Ken Pomeranz.

I would describe the book as uneven--it's a bit "choppy," as if the unifying narrative is in part taken from the headings and subheadings that are used liberally to break up the text.

Many students find it more readable than _Guns, Germs, and Steel_, which is a real beast because of Jared Diamond's desire to keep telling us one more thing that he knows.

Offhand, I'll give it four stars out of five. Many of my students would give it four or five stars. At some points it could get 3 and a half--parts merit 5 stars.

I find the author's approach to be rather polemical--but it's a pretty good style for what he's doing.
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on June 8, 2016
I loved reading Marks because it had a clear argument throughout the entire book. It gives you a nice overview of the world history, explaining how and what sort of events led to the industrialization of some nations and how did that affect others. Out of all my compulsory economic history books this was my favorite.
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on April 24, 2018
I mean.... I used it for a history class... The book is very biased in regards to the actual author... he just teaches everything in his perspective and I didn't really like that.
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on May 26, 2009
This book strikes a good balance between readability and comprehensiveness: it is thinner than most history textbooks, and more conceptual than detail-oriented. What I found most interesting was the approach of viewing major trends in history (colonization, trade networks, wars) through the lens of economics. Most history I have read has been more about what happened, and has attempted to explain causes in terms of personality, religion, or culture, but not succeeding very well. Viewing history in terms of economics makes this book more about *why* things happened as they did. I loved that approach. Perhaps some historians (like the authors of the other books) would complain that such an approach is overly simplistic. I would disagree; economics seems to be, to history, what conservation of energy is to physics: a simple concept that shapes everything else.
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on November 1, 2016
Bought for Comparative Politics class. Good textbook if you're looking to learn objectively. Most textbooks are Euro-centric and are biased.
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I bought this book for a world history class and learned alot about why the world is what it is today. For example why China and India are so poor today when they were not always poor and why Eastern Europe is economically behind. A good read if your into history or if you need it for a class.
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on August 12, 2014
The scope of this book is vast: the fifteen to the twenty-first century. Marks has done this in just 207 extremely readable pages. You are going to enjoy this history book: it is not dry but you will learn a lot.
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on October 23, 2013
Very informative and interesting book. I would recommend it to those who are interested in this type of book. Two thumbs up!
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on October 20, 2010
This book is a good general narrative of modern world history. It looks at events from a global perspective, not a typical Western or Eurocentric point of view. I had this book for a grad class, and really enjoyed it. It does not bog down in too much detail, but gives you a good breathe of knowledge. It is a good quick read and is not too dense. If you want a book over glorifying the West, Europe or the US, this book is not for you.
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