Saturday, January 7, 2012

Book Review: A Concise Economic History of the World from Paleolithic Times to the Present

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I don't always have an inspiration for something to blog about. But I AM always reading. So I might as well offer my casual impression of books as I finish them. It's win/win. Whatever that means.

Just finished A Concise Economic History of the World: From Paleolithic Times to the Present by Rondo Cameron. The third edition takes us to the formation of the EU. I only skimmed the last chapter on 1989-1997 anyway so reading the fourth edition wouldn't have made much of a difference.

Overall, this was a very good book. Initially, I was hoping for more of a history of economic theory. More names like Smith, Marx, Kaynes, Friedman along with how their trains of thought progressed and evolved. While that's not what I got, I still enjoyed it. This would best be described as a history of the world through the lens of economics. Definitely more numbers in this book than theory. I definitely could use the info, though, as it has been years since I've had any coursework on world history.

One beef I have is with the title. This is DEFINITELY not a history of world economics. This is a history of European economics (re: "Western") with attention paid to other countries and regions only when their trajectories intersect the West's. It's also Not a history from Paleolithic times to the present. Cameron spends only a couple pages on the economic history from Paleolithic times to the ancient world. With that said, this book would be MUCH larger, if not a multi-volume work, had Cameron actually covered the entirety of the globe along with a full range of 12,000 years of history. In the end, my beef ends up being focused on his title and not the content of the book. A more accurate title would downplay the global as well as time period.

On Goodreads, I gave this book 3 out of 5 stars. The beef described above was -1 star. The fact that it didn't blow my mind would have given it 4 out of 5. Definitely worth reading. If you decide to, try and get the fourth edition. Let me know what's been added. ;)


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