Daily Archives: June 21, 2021

Empires of the Atlantic World: Britain and Spain in America 1492-1830: J. H. Elliott

This epic history compares the empires built by Spain and Britain in the Americas, from Columbus’s arrival in the New World to the end of Spanish colonial rule in the early nineteenth century. J. H. Elliott, one of the most distinguished and versatile historians working today, offers us history on a grand scale, contrasting the worlds built by Britain and by Spain on the ruins of the civilizations they encountered and destroyed in North and South America.

Elliott identifies and explains both the similarities and differences in the two empires’ processes of colonization, the character of their colonial societies, their distinctive styles of imperial government, and the independence movements mounted against them. Based on wide reading in the history of the two great Atlantic civilizations, the book sets the Spanish and British colonial empires in the context of their own times and offers us insights into aspects of this dual history that still influence the Americas.


“[A] magisterial comparative history of empire of the Americas. . . . [A] richly textured comparative history. . . . [A] meticulously researched and elegantly executed synthesis. . . . Mr. Elliott’s achievement is to identify with brilliant clarity the similarities and differences between British and Spanish America while embroidering his analysis with memorable details.”—Niall Ferguson, Wall Street Journal

“[A] monumental analysis of two New World empires . . . Elliott . . . uses the story of each colonisation to illuminate the other. He challenges our prejudices about the Spanish conquest and the patriotic myths that have grown up around the English one. There is nothing black and white about this book. . . . Elliott’s writing . . . moves with a gentle rhythm of a sea swell to carry the reader along.”—Christian Tyler, Financial Times Magazine

“A handsome and fascinating study of the two colonisations, so different in their scope, duration and outcome. The contrasts in administration, treatment of the natives and economic viability are intriguing.”—Christian Tyler, Financial Times Magazine

“My favorite recent book of American history is, perhaps surprisingly, by an English scholar of the history of Spain. A model of comparative history, Empires succeeds in placing the formative years of the area that became the United States in a consistently illuminating hemispheric perspective.”―Eric Foner, New York Times Book Review

“Our current debate about immigration isn’t only about clamping down on the U.S.-Mexican border. It’s also about what it means to be an American after 9/11 and about how the nation is revamping the concept of citizenship. And it’s an opportunity to reassess yet again, the relationship between the United States and its neighbors to the south, a chance to reflect on the role of Hispanic culture in the English-speaking world. For those eager to understand the historical context behind these issues, I know of no more comprehensive, readable source than J.H. Elliott’s Empires of the Atlantic World. . . . A feast of insights.”―Ilan Stavans, Washington Post Book World

“In a masterful account, Oxford don Elliott explores the simultaneous development of Spanish and English colonies in the so-called New World. . . . Elliott’s synthesis represents some of the finest fruits of the study of the Atlantic World.”—Publishers Weekly

“Elliott’s mastery of Spanish materials is especially impressive and allows him to show how Spanish America ‘was large enough to provide the setting for a variety of holy experiments’. . . . It is refreshing to read, towards the end of this brilliant, compelling book, that in the British colonies ‘a distinctively, American identity’ was not so much the cause of revolution as the result.”―Tom D’Evelyn, Christian Science Monitor

“So skilled . . . that it continually generates fresh insights forged out of familiar materials. . . . This is an indispensable and richly rewarding contribution to both the art of comparative history and the story of early America.”―Richard R. Johnson, The Journal of American History

“Elliott has been writing about ‘the old conundrum of the decline of Spain’ with increasing skepticism since 1961, and his new Empires of the Atlantic World is in many ways the culmination of a lifetime’s exploration of the riddle.”—Matthew Restall, William and Mary Quarterly

“An essential addition to scholarship on the broader impact of imperialism in the Atlantic World.”―K. David Milobar, History News Network

“A magisterial comparison of the Spanish and British empires in the Americas. . . . This story only hints at the scope and richness of Elliott’s masterful comparative history.”―Richard J. Ross, Law and History Review

“Insightful and illuminating. . . . Rich and delightful. . . . Complete with wonderful illustrations that are well integrated into the discussion.”―Ian K. Steele, American Historical Review

“This book amazes. Covering the span of the imperial experience in the Americas, its combination of erudition and depth of insight is rarely matched. . . . The book will prove to be a magnum opus―thorough, thought-provoking, definitive.”―William J. McCarthy, Nautical Research Journal

“Evocative. . . . From his very first chapter, Elliott does wonderful work in breaking down oversimplified characterizations of the Spanish empire as one of ‘conquest’ and Britain’s one of ‘commerce.’ . . . Elliott is to be applauded and thanked, not only for his perseverance in writing this much-needed comparative review, but also for the verve and vision with which he infuses his smooth and insightful narrative.”—Kristen Block, Itinerario

“J.H. Elliott’s comparative study of English and Spanish colonization in the Americas is a sweeping synthesis that contributes significantly to our understanding of how European empires rose and fell from the sixteenth century to the early nineteenth.”―Aaron Spencer Fogleman, New West Indian Guide

“A remarkable tour de force, in thematic and chronological coverage broad, seamlessly shifting between two colonial cultures and their metropoles. Elliott crafts a political, institutional, and cultural narrative spiced with usually well-founded, penetrating insight. . . . Empires of the Atlantic is an outstanding contribution to the historian’s craft.”―Stanley J. Stein, Hispanic American Historical Review

“[A] profound study of pan-American empires.”―Linda Colley, New York Review of Books

“A masterwork of synthesis. . . . Elliott brings a lifetime of research to bear on a reading of the two empires.”―Robert Appelbaum, The Historian

“Unfailingly careful and completely convincing. This will be a classic; all that is needed now is time.”―Leonard R.N. Ashley, Bibliotheque d’Humanisme et Renaissance

“Richly illustrated and based on a thorough and thoughtful reading in the vast literatures of British and Spanish America, [Elliott’s] masterful synthesis is unlikely to be equaled―let alone surpassed―any time soon.”―Carla Rahn Phillips, Eighteenth-Century Studies

“Sir John Elliott, the undisputed dean of Hispanic New World and Golden Age historians, brings his formidable knowledge to bear on this important topic. His access to documentation and his nuanced reading, subtle marshaling of the facts, and elegant prose come together in a book destined to be the standard reference in the field.”―Virginia Quarterly Review

Selected as an Outstanding Academic Title for 2007 by Choice Magazine

Selected as a 2007 “Outstanding” book by AAUP University Press Books for Public and Secondary School Libraries

Shortlisted for the 2006 Hessel-Tiltman History Prize, awarded by the English PEN Club

Winner of the 2007 Francis Parkman Prize awarded by the Society of American Historians for the best book in American history

“Others have offered comparisons between the English- and Spanish-speaking worlds, but none have been as fully nuanced or fully realized as this. A masterpiece by one of the English-speaking world’s most accomplished historians.”—David Weber, author of Bárbaros: Spaniards and Their Savages in the Age of Enlightenment

“Elliott’s close study of the empire the English founded in North America and the one that the Spanish built to the south has given him remarkable insights and perspectives. The result is to give new dimensions to the usable past of both Americas.”—Edmund S. Morgan, author of Benjamin Franklin

About the Author

J. H. Elliott is Regius Professor Emeritus of Modern History, University of Oxford. His previous books include The Count-Duke of Olivares, A Palace for a King (with Jonathan Brown), and Spain and Its World, 1500—1700, all published by Yale University Press. Among the many honors he has received are the Wolfson Prize for History, the Prince of Asturias Prize for the Social Sciences, and the Balzan Prize for History.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Yale University Press; Reprint edition (April 28, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 608 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0300253397
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0300253399
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.71 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.4 x 1.7 x 8.4 inches

The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World-System, 1830–1970: John Darwin

The British Empire, wrote Adam Smith, ‘has hitherto been not an empire, but the project of an empire’ and John Darwin offers a magisterial global history of the rise and fall of that great imperial project. The British Empire, he argues, was much more than a group of colonies ruled over by a scattering of British expatriates until eventual independence. It was, above all, a global phenomenon. Its power derived rather less from the assertion of imperial authority than from the fusing together of three different kinds of empire: the settler empire of the ‘white dominions’; the commercial empire of the City of London; and ‘Greater India’ which contributed markets, manpower and military muscle. This unprecedented history charts how this intricate imperial web was first strengthened, then weakened and finally severed on the rollercoaster of global economic, political and geostrategic upheaval on which it rode from beginning to end.


“The Empire Project is a brilliant and highly readable account of one of the great themes in modern history. It will attract the general reader as well as fellow historians because of the sweep of the narrative from the early part of the nineteenth century to the end of Empire in the 1970s. It possesses compelling insight into the links between India, the ‘white dominions’ and the colonial dependencies throughout the world. This is a life’s work and a landmark in the subject.”
Wm. Roger Louis, author of Ends of British Imperialism: The Scramble for Empire, Suez, and Decolonization

“John Darwin’s book is a tour de force. Never before have the dynamics of the British Empire been analysed with such deep knowledge and penetrating insight.”
Piers Brendon, author of The Decline and Fall of the British Empire

“Historians are more than ever inclined to fight shy of overarching histories of Britain’s empire. Nothing daunted, and with style, splendid assurance, and encyclopaedic knowledge, John Darwin unravels the dynamic connections and external pressures that forged a British world system and then influenced its dissolution. His account will command attention for years to come.”
Andrew Porter, author of European Imperialism, 1860–1914

“With its clear narrative, detailed analysis and penetrating insight, Andrew Porter is right that it ‘will command attention for years to come’. This is certainly the book to read if you are teaching British colonisation.”
Richard Brown, Historical Association

“… there is no doubting the high quality of Darwin’s book. It is based on profound scholarship, is engaging and inquiring, and shows a mastery of both the detail and the bigger picture … It is not merely in the grand overview and in the skilful synthesising of so much material that Darwin impresses. The book is also a masterly work of exposition and analysis. On almost every page one is aware of the sheer weight of scholarship that is able not merely to present information clearly and with ease, but also to draw together a host of facts, interpretations, even speculation, and continually make sense of it all.”
Times Literary Supplement

“… this is the best general history of British imperialism to date; a tremendous achievement.”
Bernard Porte, British scholar

“Highly recommended.”

“… a rousing success.”
Victorian Studies

“… combines bold generalizations with stunning mastery of intricate political and economic detail.”
Mark Hampton, Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d’ histoire

“… a brilliant book and is essential reading for professional historians …”
American Historical Review

“John Darwin’s The Empire Project is a tour de force, a major work of revisionist synthesis and interpretation, rich in data and insight, to which this short review cannot do justice … It is a ‘must-read’ for all serious students of the British Empire.”
Soldiers of the Queen: The Journal of the Victorian Military Society

“… this is a book that is full of fascinating ‘internal history’ of the British Empire. It is certainly more than worth its price for the information it contains on the internal empire.”
Denis O’Hearn, International Journal of Comparative Sociology

“The great contribution of Darwin’s book is that it hammers a final nail into the coffin of an imperial history that saw the British empire as crafted solely from London.”
History Workshop Journal

“… [this] book is a welcome addition to the ever-growing studies [on] British imperial history … well-researched and convincingly argued … [and] gracefully written in a fluent style. Darwin provides readers with a comprehensive and in-depth insight into the rise and decline of the British world system … very informative and engaging …”
Chia-Lin Huang, European History Quarterly

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (August 15, 2011)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 811 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0521317894
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0521317894
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.76 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.98 x 1.84 x 8.98 inches

Atmospheric CO2 levels highest in 4 million years

RT America

Published on Jun 21, 2021

Scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography recently announced that the level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere reached the highest level ever directly recorded since modern observations began 63 years ago. The Resident breaks it down

The Age of Wood: Our Most Useful Material and the Construction of Civilization: Roland Ennos

A groundbreaking examination of the role that wood and trees have played in our global ecosystem—including human evolution and the rise and fall of empires—in the bestselling tradition of Yuval Harari’s Sapiens and Mark Kurlansky’s Salt.

As the dominant species on Earth, humans have made astonishing progress since our ancestors came down from the trees. But how did the descendants of small primates manage to walk upright, become top predators, and populate the world? How were humans able to develop civilizations and produce a globalized economy? Now, in The Age of Wood, Roland Ennos shows for the first time that the key to our success has been our relationship with wood.

Brilliantly synthesizing recent research with existing knowledge in fields as wide-ranging as primatology, anthropology, archaeology, history, architecture, engineering, and carpentry, Ennos reinterprets human history and shows how our ability to exploit wood’s unique properties has profoundly shaped our bodies and minds, societies, and lives. He takes us on a sweeping ten-million-year journey from Southeast Asia and West Africa where great apes swing among the trees, build nests, and fashion tools; to East Africa where hunter gatherers collected their food; to the structural design of wooden temples in China and Japan; and to Northern England, where archaeologists trace how coal enabled humans to build an industrial world. Addressing the effects of industrialization—including the use of fossil fuels and other energy-intensive materials to replace timber—The Age of Wood not only shows the essential role that trees play in the history and evolution of human existence, but also argues that for the benefit of our planet we must return to more traditional ways of growing, using, and understanding trees.

A winning blend of history and science, this is a fascinating and authoritative work for anyone interested in nature, the environment, and the making of the world as we know it.

“Ennos, a professor at the University of Hull in England and a specialist in the mechanical properties of trees, shares his insatiable curiosity with us. He applies his sharp eye for details, and he does so entertainingly.” Washington Post

“Ennos’s special love and concern is for things made from trees…The principles of every significant technology, from tree-felling and carpentry to shipbuilding and papermaking, are described with a precise, almost mesmerizing detail.” New York Times Book Review

“[Ennos] takes a fresh look at the familiar substance, wielding it like a wedge to pry open our past, examine our present and even glimpse our future.” Wall Street Journal

“Alively history of biology, mechanics and culture that stretches back 60 million years… A specialist in the mechanics of wood, Ennos has a fierce love for his topic.” Nature

“Nearly the whole of human history deserves a different title: the Age of Wood.” The New Republic

“An excellent, thorough history in an age of our increasingly fraught relationships with natural resources.” Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“This engaging natural history will draw in fans of Mark Kurlansky’s Cod and Vince Beiser’s The World in a Grain. It does a fantastic job of elevating humble wood to its rightful place alongside stone, bronze, and iron as a key resource in leading humanity to its dazzling achievements.”Library Journal

“This expansive history will give readers a newfound appreciation for one of the world’s most ubiquitous yet overlooked materials.” Publishers Weekly

“Smart and surprising, Ennos’ inquiry proves that there is much we still need to learn about wood and how it has shaped our past and present.” Booklist

“This fascinating book is an eye-opening history of wood… From how trees, and our interactions with trees, have shaped ecosystems, to how wood itself has been incorporated into societies, to how wood functions as a material, it gives a rundown like no other.” BookMarks

About the Author

Roland Ennos is a visiting professor of biological sciences at the University of Hull. He is the author of successful textbooks on plants, biomechanics, and statistics, and his popular book Trees, published by the Natural History Museum, is now in its second edition. He lives in England.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Prologue: The Road to Nowhere PROLOGUE The Road to Nowhere
Many years ago, toward the end of an arduous walking tour of the French Pyrenees, my brother and I stumbled across an engineering feat that had helped change the course of human history and shape the modern world. As we made our way down from the peaks to the village of Etsaut, the route took us from alpine meadows to the conifer forests of the Vallée d’Aspe. The path, which had been broad and easy to follow, suddenly changed. As the river valley continued to drop, the path maintained its level, but only by cutting into the walls of an almost-sheer rock face. Soon we were walking along a narrow ledge perched precariously six hundred feet above the trees and foaming river in the Gorge d’Enfer below. The path continued like this for almost a mile before the gorge finally opened out, and we descended down to the level of the river and once again felt safe. Only then did a sign helpfully tell us that we had navigated the Chemin de la Mâture. Why had such a spectacular path been built in the middle of nowhere? And what was mâture?

The answer lies in the rivalry that developed in the eighteenth century between the two emerging superpowers of the Western world, France and Britain, and provides just one of the more striking examples of the way wood has helped shape the human story. With the two nations vying for power and influence over their developing colonies and territories in the Caribbean and North America, an arms race started as they built up their navies. Both nations strove to build bigger and more heavily armed ships of the line, capable of acting as firing platforms for up to a hundred huge cannons, which could batter other ships and shore defenses into submission. But both countries came up against the same problem; how could they access enough trees to build their ships? The problem was not the lack of wood itself. France in particular had large areas of forest, which covered around 30 percent of the country. The problem was the lack of trees tall and straight enough to make the 100-to-120-foot masts of the ships. Most forests in Europe were already being managed, and it was becoming harder to find areas of primary forest where tall trees could still be found. For France the answer lay in the wilds of the Pyrenees, where stands of huge fir trees still stood. The engineer Paul-Marie Leroy put forward his plan to extract trees from the previously inaccessible Vallée d’Aspe by cutting a daring path through the edge of the cliff. The path was completed in 1772 and named the Chemin de la Mâture (literally, the Mast Road). Soon masts and other timbers were being hauled down the new path, before being rafted down to the sea. France’s supply problems were fixed, at least temporarily.

In Britain the problem of obtaining masts was even more acute. The country had a tree cover below 10 percent, and its forests had long before been put under management. Few conifers grew there, and no trees tall and straight enough to be made into ships’ masts. Even by the sixteenth century, Britain had been forced to obtain almost all its masts from the countries adjoining the Baltic Sea. The problem was that the fleets of its northern rivals, Holland and Sweden, were always threatening to cut off this supply, and in any case tall trees were becoming scarcer and more expensive. Britain turned to its American colonies, where the old-growth forests of New England contained huge, straight-trunked eastern white pine trees in seemingly limitless numbers. From the mid-seventeenth century onward these trees, which could grow up to 230 feet tall with a diameter of over five feet, became the tree of choice for the British navy; Samuel Pepys, the naval administrator, mentions the trade several times in his famous diary, rejoicing on December 3, 1666, when a convoy carrying masts managed to evade a Dutch blockade:

There is also the very good news come of four New England ships come home safe to Falmouth with masts for the King; which is a blessing mighty unexpected, and without which, if for nothing else, we must have failed the next year. But God be praised for thus much good fortune, and send us the continuance of his favour in other things!

Unfortunately, in seeking to secure their supply of masts, the British government made a series of policy blunders that were to have disastrous consequences. They had difficulty buying tree trunks on the open market because the colonists preferred to saw them up for timber; this was after all a much easier way of processing them, considering their huge size, rather than hauling the unwieldy trunks for miles down to navigable rivers. The British could have bought up areas of forest and managed them themselves, but instead, in 1691 they implemented what was known as the King’s Broad Arrow policy. White pine trees above twenty-four inches in trunk diameter were marked with three strokes of a hatchet in the shape of an upward-pointing arrow and were deemed to be crown property. Unfortunately, this policy soon proved to be wildly unpopular and totally unenforceable. Colonists continued to fell the huge trees and cut them into boards twenty-three inches wide or less, to dispose of the evidence. Indeed wide floorboards became highly fashionable, as a mark of an independent spirit. The British responded by rewriting the protection act to prohibit the felling of all white pine trees over twelve inches in diameter. However, because trees were protected only if they were not “growing within any township or the bounds, lines and limits thereof,” the people of New Hampshire and Massachusetts promptly realigned their borders so that the provinces were divided almost entirely into townships. Many rural colonists just ignored the rules, pleaded ignorance of them, or deliberately targeted the marked trees because of their obvious value. The surveyors general of His Majesty’s Woods, employing few men and needing to cover tens of thousands of square miles, were almost powerless to stop the depredations of the colonists, and the local authorities were unwilling to enforce an unpopular law. The situation reached a crisis in 1772, exactly when the Chemin de la Mâture was being completed, with the event known as the Pine Tree Riot.

The event was precipitated when sawmill owners from Weare, New Hampshire, refused to pay a fine for sawing up large white pines, and Benjamin Whiting, sheriff of Hillsborough County, and his deputy, John Quigley, were sent to South Weare with a warrant to arrest the leader of the mill owners, Ebenezer Mudgett. However, before they could complete their task, Mudgett led a force of twenty to forty men to assault them at their lodgings, the Pine Tree Tavern. Their faces blackened with soot, the rioters gave the sheriff one lash with a tree switch for every tree being contested, cut off the ears and shaved the manes and tails off Whiting’s and Quigley’s horses and forced the two men to ride out of town through a gauntlet of jeering townspeople. Eight of the perpetrators were later punished, but their fines, twenty shillings each, were light, an indication of the weakness of British authority.

News of the riot spread around New England and became a major inspiration for the much more famous Boston Tea Party in December 1773. The Pine Tree Flag even became a symbol of colonial resistance, being one of those used by the revolutionaries in the ensuing War of Independence. Designed by George Washington’s secretary Colonel Joseph Reed, it was flown atop the masts of the colonial warships.

The start of the Revolutionary War cut off the supply of masts for the Royal Navy from New England. The British were forced to use smaller trees from the Baltic for their masts, and had to clamp together several trunks with iron hoops to construct “made masts.” This arrangement was at best unsatisfactory, and many British ships spent most of the ensuing war out of action in port with broken masts. To make matters worse, the colonists started to sell their pines to the French, who had opportunistically sided with the rebels. The French defeated the British in important naval conflicts—such as the Battle of Grenada in 1779, the most disastrous British naval defeat since Beachy Head in 1690—while British naval actions against the colonists themselves proved indecisive. Without Britain’s usual naval superiority, America prevailed and became independent in 1783. What would become the world’s most powerful nation had been born. Britain would soon regain its naval supremacy, managing to replace its supplies of masts by using trees from its other dominions, Canada and eventually New Zealand, but the world would never again be the same. Thus is a turning point in geopolitics glimpsed in a path hewn out of a cliff in the Pyrenees.

Considering its historical importance, it is astonishing that the Great Mast Crisis is not better known. All schoolchildren are taught about the Boston Tea Party, even in Britain; none are taught about the Pine Tree Riot. But this is not an isolated instance; accounts of human evolution, prehistory, and history routinely ignore the role played by wood. For instance, anthropologists wax lyrical about the developments of stone tools, and the intellectual and motor skills needed to shape them, while brushing aside the importance of the digging sticks, spears, and bows and arrows with which early humans actually obtained their food. Archaeologists downplay the role wood fires played in enabling modern humans to cook their food and smelt metals. Technologists ignore the way in which new metal tools facilitated better woodworking to develop the groundbreaking new technologies of wheels and plank ships. And architectural historians ignore the crucial role of wood in roofing medieval cathedrals, insulating country houses, and underpinning whole cities.

When I stumbled across the Chemin de la Mâture thirty-five years ago, I too was largely ignorant of the importance of wood. I knew about its anatomy, its mechanical properties, and some of its structural uses. However, only when I turned to research the mechanics of root anchorage in plants and landed a permanent post in academia did I start to learn more about wood. One of the great benefits of being an academic (or it used to be) is that it gives you the opportunity to find out about a wide variety of topics, through your own research and teaching, and through discussions with your colleagues in (now sadly defunct) tearooms. In my case, I started to find out more about biomechanics by supervising a wide range of student projects. I set bright young students to study subjects such as the mechanical design of our own bodies, the mechanics of wood and trees, and latterly the benefits of urban forests. I wrote a book about trees and started to learn more about the uses of wood and the relationship between human beings and trees. My teaching also led me to think more about the relationship that our relatives the apes have with trees, and to learn about exciting new research that was uncovering the ways in which apes make and use a variety of wooden tools. I was lucky enough to become involved with researchers who studied how apes move through the canopy and build wooden nests. And I started to think about how early humans could have made effective woodworking tools and shaped their spears and ax handles.

All these discoveries tied in with my happy memories of visits I had made from childhood onward to a wide range of wood-related attractions: local archaeological museums with their rows of ax heads and reconstructions of the life of “early man”; Scandinavian open-air museums, filled with wooden farmhouses, water mills, windmills, and stave churches; Viking longboats; the roofs of Gothic churches and cathedrals, medieval barns and castles; and Palladian country houses. It became clear to me that wood has actually played a central role in our history. It is the one material that has provided continuity in our long evolutionary and cultural story, from apes moving about the forest, through spear-throwing hunter-gatherers and ax-wielding farmers to roof-building carpenters and paper-reading scholars. And knowing something about the properties of wood and the growth of trees, I started to work out why this was the case. The foundations of our relationship with wood lie in its remarkable properties. As an all-round structural material it is unmatched. It is lighter than water, yet weight for weight is as stiff, strong, and tough as steel and can resist both being stretched and compressed. It is easy to shape, as it readily splits along the grain, and is soft enough to carve, especially when green. It can be found in pieces large enough to hold up houses, yet can be cut up into tools as small as a toothpick. It can last for centuries if it is kept permanently dry or wet, yet it can also be burned to keep us warm, to cook our food, and drive a wide range of industrial processes. With all these advantages, the central role of wood in the human story was not just explicable, but inevitable.

So it is time to reassess the role of wood. This book is a new interpretation of our evolution, prehistory, and history, based on our relationship with this most versatile material. I hope to show that looking at the world in this fresh wood-centered way, what an academic might call lignocentric, can help us make far more sense of who we are, where we have come from, and where we are going.

Above all I hope to encourage the reader to look at the world in a way that is unhindered by the conventional wisdom that the story of humanity is defined by our relationship with three materials: stone, bronze, and iron. It refutes the common assumption that wood is little more than an obsolete relic from our distant past. I hope it will show that for the vast majority of our time on this planet we have lived in an age dominated by this most versatile material, and that in many ways we still do. And that for the benefit of the environment and our own physical and psychological health, we need to return to the Age of Wood.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Scribner (December 1, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 336 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1982114738
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1982114732
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.12 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches

China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa: Howard W. French

Chinese immigrants of the recent past and unfolding twenty-first century are in search of the African dream. So explains indefatigable traveler Howard W. French, prize-winning investigative journalist and former New York Times bureau chief in Africa and China, in the definitive account of this seismic geopolitical development. China’s burgeoning presence in Africa is already shaping, and reshaping, the future of millions of people. From Liberia to Senegal to Mozambique, in creaky trucks and by back roads, French introduces us to the characters who make up China’s dogged emigrant population: entrepreneurs singlehandedly reshaping African infrastructure, and less-lucky migrants barely scraping by but still convinced of Africa’s opportunities. French’s acute observations offer illuminating insight into the most pressing unknowns of modern Sino-African relations: Why China is making these cultural and economic incursions into the continent; what Africa’s role is in this equation; and what the ramifications for both parties and their people—and the watching world—will be in the foreseeable future.


“Extraordinary…French delves into the lives of some of the one million-plus Chinese migrants he says are now building careers in Africa…and the stories [he] tells are fascinating.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Riveting…As a massive transactional process, China’s entry into Africa has been a dramatic success…but as an ideological and cultural undertaking, Mr. French’s masterly account suggests that it is getting nowhere.”
The Economist

“Howard French…let[s] the Africans and Chinese speak for themselves as he travels through fifteen countries. The result is a rich, complex, and satisfying look at this strange marriage.”
The New York Review of Books

“In his important new book, French weaves a rich tapestry of anecdotes, interspersed with numerous interviews with Chinese migrants and Africans alike, offering readers an eminently fair, occasionally humorous and sympathetic, but always engaging account….A searing, trenchant, and entertaining study of how China, in both an individual and collective sense, is shrewdly and opportunistically maximizing its relationships with African nations in an effort to extend its economic influence across the world. ”
The Christian Science Monitor

“China’s trade with Africa has grown dramatically…But China’s investments…are less significant for this rapidly evolving relationship, according to this 15-country survey by veteran African correspondent French, than the significant flow of new Chinese immigrants—often pushed out by the pressure and oppression back home as much as lured by opportunity. In vivid first-person reportage, French explores this momentous phenomenon, while challenging assumptions about China and Chinese immigrants…The book will appeal to students of China and Africa, and anyone interested in the shifting contours of the global economy and its geopolitical consequences.”
Publishers Weekly

“Although several recent books have discussed…China’s recent incursions into Africa in pursuit of resources and profit,…French has the advantage of significant personal experience in both Africa and China….Interacting with Chinese and Africans in Mozambique, Sierra Leone, Namibia, and elsewhere, French capably illustrates that although Chinese omnipresence in Africa may be a form of soft imperialism, it is also a result of the crushing pressures—lack of space, merciless business competition, pollution—of modern Chinese society.”

“Accounts of China’s foray into African markets are often made with numbers; French goes beyond the statistics and illuminates the accelerating involvement of Chinese migrants….These candid moments are arresting, delivered via seasoned and sensitive reporting.”

“Every once in a while, an author produces a work of reportage mixed with thoughtful analysis that can change the thinking on a question—or even rewriting the nature of that question…China’s Second Continent offers a very different—and provocative—perspective on China’s economic future, with special attention on Africa. Building on years of experience in both China and Africa, and following months of personal inquiry across the continent to search for answers to the questions of what China really wants in Africa, and how it is going to get there, French has effectively turned these questions on their head.”
Daily Maverick

“The huge and growing ties between China and the African continent will be one of the most crucial relationships of the 21st century, and you simply could not invent a better guide to it than Howard French. Superbly written, rich in anecdote, insight, and a sense of the immense scale of what is happening, China’s Second Continent should be mandatory reading for anyone wanting to understand how our world is being reshaped.”
—Adam Hochschild, author, King Leopold’s Ghost

“We owe tremendous thanks to Howard French for this fascinating and deeply reported book. He is an audacious writer who takes his readers to the far-flung factories, farms and living rooms of the Chinese entrepreneurs who are flooding into countries like Mozambique, Zambia and Senegal. French intrepidly explores the other side of the global coin, giving voice to an array of Africans reacting warily to the new imperialists in their midst. This is an essential book for understanding not just China and Africa but our changing world.”
—Peter Maass, author, Crude World

“Almost no other writer would have dared the reportorial and story-telling challenge Howard French has set for himself in China’s Second Continent, and absolutely none could have pulled it off as well. This is foreign reportage and analysis presented as compelling human drama.”
—James Fallows, author, China Airborne

“In Howard French’s wonderfully engaging new book, he draws on his journalistic experience covering both China and Africa to weave together a series of vivid portraits which limn the country’s global rise in this remote and unlikely part of the world. What is so surprising about the stories he tells is that they chronicle everything from the constriction of massive stadiums, hospitals, universities, highways and mineral and energy extraction operations to small-scale shops, farms and family businesses. China’s Second Continent is a grand tale of the world’s newest diaspora, one that promises to change a previously largely forgotten continent.”
—Orville Schell, Director, The Center on US-China Relations, Asia Society

“Howard French has given us the most lush, fair, and expansive look yet at China’s role in Africa. This is a tale not strictly about China or Africa; it is about the encounter of civilizations and the energy produced in the collision. Infused with thought and sympathy, this is a book with no agenda other than fidelity to facts that were so difficult to gather on the ground.”
—Evan Osnos, staff writer, The New Yorker

“Is China’s burgeoning empire in Africa a ‘win-win’ for both parties? For the most comprehensive, closely-reported answer to this question, read this book. It’s full of surprises, from hard-driving frontiersmen looking for (and finding) countries with less corruption than they faced at home in China to healthy democracies constraining the more rapacious practices of extractive industry. I cannot imagine a better, more-qualified guide to this vast, fascinating subject than Howard French.”
—William Finnegan, author, A Complicated War: The Harrowing of Mozambique

“Howard French magisterially holds up both ends of his transcontinental bargain: fluent in the idioms of the two worlds, China and Africa, he reveals the variegated diaspora of the one million or so Chinese in Africa yet also drives home that Africa is awakening in turn. His pages are teeming with human beings of flesh and blood, and often outlandish characters, at the new frontier explored in this fascinating book.”
—Stephen W. Smith, former Africa editor of Le Monde and professor at Duke University

“An important contribution to a critical debate on China’s rapidly changing relationship with Africa. Howard French goes beyond official statistics to weave stories of new wave Chinese immigrants and the Africans whose lives they impact. Unlike ideologues who focus on motives, French seeks to discern the impact of this relationship on all drawn into its vortex.”
—Mahmood Mamdani, Executive Director, Makerere Institute of Social Research, Kampala, Uganda and Herbert Lehman Professor of Government, Columbia University

“Howard French is one of the most insightful American journalists to have covered Africa in the past twenty years. In this riveting and rich new book, he powerfully juxtaposes two worlds he is uniquely positioned to observe, namely China and Africa. Anyone who has recently spent time in Africa knows how important China is becoming on the continent. Yet French tells a nuanced story about the Chinese few will have previously understood. His storytelling is sharp and wise, the characters we meet are vivid and unforgettable, and the implications are profound and at times disturbing. Anyone interested in Africa and China, or more generally in migration and globalization, will find a wealth of material in this terrific book.”
—Scott Straus, professor of political science at University of Wisconsin, Madison

About the Author

Howard W. French wrote from Africa for The Washington Post and The New York Times. At the Times, he was bureau chief in Latin America and the Caribbean, West and Central Africa, Japan, and China. He is the recipient of two Overseas Press Club awards and is a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee. The author of A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa and co-author of Disappearing Shanghai: Photographs and Poems of an Intimate Way of Life, he has written for The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, and Rolling Stone, among other national publications. He is on the faculty of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He lives in New York.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Vintage; Reprint edition (February 3, 2015)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0307946657
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0307946652
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 7.6 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.16 x 0.63 x 7.98 inches

The Specter of Global China: Politics, Labor, and Foreign Investment in Africa: Ching Kwan Lee

China has recently emerged as one of Africa’s top business partners, aggressively pursuing its raw materials and establishing a mighty presence in the continent’s booming construction market. Among major foreign investors in Africa, China has stirred the most fear, hope, and controversy. For many, the specter of a Chinese neocolonial scramble is looming, while for others China is Africa’s best chance at economic renewal. Yet, global debates about China in Africa have been based more on rhetoric than on empirical evidence. Ching Kwan Lee’s The Specter of Global China is the first comparative ethnographic study that addresses the critical question: Is Chinese capital a different kind of capital?

Offering the clearest look yet at China’s state-driven investment in Africa, this book is rooted in six years of extensive fieldwork in copper mines and construction sites in Zambia, Africa’s copper giant. Lee shadowed Chinese, Indian, and South African managers in underground mines, interviewed Zambian miners and construction workers, and worked with Zambian officials. Distinguishing carefully between Chinese state capital and global private capital in terms of their business objectives, labor practices, managerial ethos, and political engagement with the Zambian state and society, she concludes that Chinese state investment presents unique potential and perils for African development. The Specter of Global China will be a must-read for anyone interested in the future of China, Africa, and capitalism worldwide.


“Lee deserves praise for her enviable ethnographic research: the myriad interviews and observations that inform her findings make for a richly textured study. Her book is a major contribution to the China-in-Africa literature.”
Current History

“[A] masterful deployment of the global ethnographic method as a tool for rigorous conjunctural analysis. . . . The Specter of Global China will undoubtedly appeal to geographical political economists, critical resource geographers, Asia and Africa scholars, and economic sociologists who wish to understand the contemporary moment of economic restructuring, particularly as it unfolds in a non-North Atlantic setting.”

“Rejecting simplistic depictions of Chinese investment in Africa as inevitably ‘imperialistic’ and ‘exploitative,’ The Specter of Global China paints a richly nuanced portrait based on extensive ethnographic fieldwork in Zambian copper mines and construction sites. Lee makes a compelling case for the benefits of placing the study of China’s political economy in global perspective.”
Elizabeth J. Perry, Harvard University

“The book is brilliant in its portrayals, and impossible to put down: both the ethnographic section of the book and the appendix are superlative in their vividness.”
Gordon Mathews, author of The World in Guangzhou

“Lee has produced another pioneering treatise on China. With Zambia as her field site, she contrasts Chinese state investment with competing footloose private capital from other countries, thereby refuting mythologies of Chinese colonialism or world hegemony. Her novel political economy based on ‘varieties of capital’ displaces more conventional theories of ‘varieties of capitalism’ to reveal a startling contingency to global capitalism. Sure to be an unforgettable classic, The Specter of Global China represents the very best of historical and comparative ethnography.”
Michael Burawoy, University of California at Berkeley

The Specter of Global China engages with substantial theoretical questions at the center of the nature of capitalism as a system. It is not a book exclusively for students of China in Africa; its theoretical and empirical engagement with enduring questions in the social sciences make it an important contribution to all those interested in the theory and practice of development.”
Edward Webster, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

Ching Kwan Lee is an excellent ethnographer and the access she obtained to mining companies through her friendship with Zambia’s former acting president is exceptional. For academics studying mining or construction in Zambia, with or without a Chinese focus, this will prove an invaluable text purely for its details. Its core depiction of Chinese State capital is an interesting insight that opens productive space for the ongoing study of both China and other forms of capital.
African Studies Quarterly

“Ching Kwan Lee has written a captivating ethnographic study comparing the behaviour of Chinese state capital and global private capital in Zambia. By looking at the activities of Chinese state capital in both the copper mining and construction sectors, Lee’s field research creates a window at the grassroots level into the China-Zambia relationship. She weaves the worldviews of dozens of Zambians and Chinese into an accessible narrative that helps bridge the divide between different actors’ perspectives. This book is a lesson to all scholars, myself included, on the value of perseverance and chutzpa in academic field research.”

The Anarchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire: William Dalrymple

In August 1765, the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and set up, in his place, a government run by English traders who collected taxes through means of a private army.

The creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional company and became something much more unusual: an international corporation transformed into an aggressive colonial power. Over the course of the next 47 years, the company’s reach grew until almost all of India south of Delhi was effectively ruled from a boardroom in the city of London.

The Anarchy tells one of history’s most remarkable stories: how the Mughal Empire―which dominated world trade and manufacturing and possessed almost unlimited resources―fell apart and was replaced by a multinational corporation based thousands of miles overseas, and answerable to shareholders, most of whom had never even seen India and no idea about the country whose wealth was providing their dividends. Using previously untapped sources, Dalrymple tells the story of the East India Company as it has never been told before and provides a portrait of the devastating results from the abuse of corporate power.

Bronze Medal in the 2020 Arthur Ross Book Award


“As William Dalrymple shows in his rampaging, brilliant, passionate history, ‘The Anarchy,’ the East India Co. was the most advanced capitalist organization in the world . . . Mr. Dalrymple gives us every sword-slash, every scam, every groan and battle cry. He has no rival as a narrative historian of the British in India. ‘The Anarchy’ is not simply a gripping tale of bloodshed and deceit, of unimaginable opulence and intolerable starvation. It is shot through with an unappeasable moral passion.” – The Wall Street Journal

“Superb. . . a vivid and richly detailed story . . . the greatest virtue of this disturbingly enjoyable book is perhaps less the questions it answers than the new ones it provokes about where corporations fit into the world, both then and now. . . Dalrymple’s book [is] worth reading by everyone.” – The New York Times Book Review

“A great story told in fabulous detail with interesting, if at times utterly rapacious or incompetent, characters populating it.” – NPR

“Gripping . . . Drawing richly from sources in multiple languages, The Anarchy is gorgeously adorned with luminous images representing a range of perspectives . . . Delightful passages abound, including of the duel between Warren Hastings and Philip Francis, Shah Alam as ‘the sightless ruler of a largely illusory empire,’ and action-packed scenes of battle . . . Dalrymple has taken us to the limit of what page-turning history can be and do.” – Los Angeles Review of Books

“An energetic pageturner that marches from the counting house on to the battlefield, exploding patriotic myths along the way. Dalrymple’s spirited, detailed telling will be reason enough for many readers to devour The Anarchy. But his more novel and arguably greater achievement lies in the way he places the company’s rise in the turbulent political landscape of late Mughal India.” – The Guardian

“How timely [The Anarchy] feels, how surprisingly of the moment … It serves as a reminder that early capitalism was just as perverse, predatory, and single-minded in its pursuit of profit as its much-derided late-model equivalent.” ― The Daily Beast

“William Dalrymple, the most versatile chronicler of India past and present, distilled another complex yet highly topical history into ‘The Anarchy,’ a bloodcurdling account of the East India Co.’s ascent to imperial dominance, full of implications for corporate behavior today.” – Maya Jasanoff

“A well- known historian both in his native Britain and his adoptive India . . . Dalrymple has influenced the scholarly as well as the popular understanding of South Asian history through his use of both European and Indian sources, thus uniting the halves of a previously bisected whole.” – New York Review of Books

“Splendid . . . Dalrymple’s book is an excellent example of popular history―engaging, readable, and informative.” – National Review

“William Dalrymple’s The Anarchy makes sense of the E.I.C. and the political and economic conditions that enabled its curious ascent. . . [Dalrymple] navigates the teeming current of events smoothly, here gliding forward, there slowing to study the view.” – Airmail

“[The Anarchy] compelled my admiration . . . in William ­Dalrymple’s deft hands we have an epic tale. It’s very strong stuff.” – Paul Kennedy

“Mr. Dalrymple sails through this story in fine style. . . . The reader will find plenty that echoes in modern India.” – The Economist

“Dalrymple has been at the forefront of the new wave of popular history, consistently producing work that engages with a wider audience through writerly craft, an emphasis on characters and their agency, evocative description of place and time, and the inclusion of long-neglected perspectives. [The Anarchy]’s real achievement is to take readers to an important and neglected period of British and south Asian history, and to make their trip their not just informative but colourful.” – The Observer

“The author is a marvelous storyteller. By quoting extensively from the company’s own voluminous records, private letters, and diaries, Persian-language sources, eyewitness accounts penned by an insightful local historian, and other reports, Dalrymple creates a ‘You Are There’ environment for the reader that makes the book hard to put down.” – Washington Independent Review of Books, Favorite Books of 2019

“In his latest book, The Anarchy, Dalrymple recounts the remarkable history of the East India Company from its founding in 1599 to 1803 when it commanded an army twice the size of the British Army and ruled over the Indian subcontinent. . . . It’s a hell of a story.” – Marginal Revolution

“[An] expert account of the rise of the first great multinational corporation.” – Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

William Dalrymple is the bestselling author of In Xanadu, City of Djinns, From the Holy Mountain, The Age of Kali, White Mughals, The Last Mughal and, most recently, Nine Lives. He has won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award, the Ryszard Kapuscinski Award for Literary Reportage, the Hemingway Prize, the French Prix d’Astrolabe, the Wolfson Prize for History, the Scottish Book of the Year Award, the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, the Asia House Award for Asian Literature, the Vodafone Crossword Award and has three times been longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. In 2012 he was appointed Whitney J. Oates Visiting Fellow in Humanities at Princeton University. He lives with his wife and three children on a farm outside Delhi.

William Dalrymple FRSL, FRGS, FRAS (born William Hamilton-Dalrymple on 20 March 1965) is a Scottish historian and writer, art historian and curator, as well as a prominent broadcaster and critic.

His books have won numerous awards and prizes, including the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize, the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award, the Hemingway, the Kapuściński and the Wolfson Prizes. He has been four times longlisted and once shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. He is also one of the co-founders and co-directors of the annual Jaipur Literature Festival.

In 2012 he was appointed a Whitney J. Oates Visiting Fellow in the Humanities by Princeton University. In the Spring of 2015 he was appointed the OP Jindal Distinguished Lecturer at Brown University.
Bio from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Photo by Premkudva (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Bloomsbury Publishing; Illustrated edition (September 10, 2019)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 576 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1635573955
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1635573954
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 2.35 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.44 x 1.88 x 9.53 inches

British North America in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Oxford History of the British Empire Companion Series) | Stephen Foster

Until relatively recently, the connection between British imperial history and the history of early America was taken for granted. In recent times, however, early American historiography has begun to suffer from a loss of coherent definition as competing manifestos demand various reorderings of the subject in order to combine time periods and geographical areas in ways that would have previously seemed anomalous. It has also become common place to announce that the history of America is best accounted for in America itself in a three-way melee between “settlers”, the indigenous populations, and the forcibly transported African slaves and their creole descendants.

The contributions to British North America in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries acknowledge the value of the historiographic work done under this new dispensation in the last two decades and incorporate its insights. However, the volume advocates a pluralistic approach to the subject generally, and attempts to demonstrate that the metropolitan power was of more than secondary importance to America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The central theme of this volume is the question “to what extent did it make a difference to those living in the colonies that made up British North America in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that they were part of an empire and that the empire in question was British?” The contributors, some of the leading scholars in their respective fields, strive to answer this question in various social, political, religious, and historical contexts.

Stephen Foster received his PhD in History from Yale University in 1966 and taught in the history department of Northern Illinois University from 1966 to 2002, retiring as Distinguished Research Professor Emeritus. He has written three books of sole authorship and a large number of journal articles
and book chapters on early American history and related aspects of Tudor-Stuart history. He is a Guggenheim fellow (1971-72) and has served as visiting editor of the major journal, The William and Mary Quarterly (1977-78).

  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 384 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0198794657
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0198794653
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.26 pounds

A Brief History of Commercial Capitalism: Jairus Banaji

The rise of capitalism to global dominance is still largely associated – by both laypeople and Marxist historians – with the industrial capitalism that made its decisive breakthrough in 18th century Britain. Jairus Banaji’s new work reaches back centuries and traverses vast distances to argue that this leap was preceded by a long era of distinct “commercial capitalism”, which reorganised labor and production on a world scale to a degree hitherto rarely appreciated.

Rather than a picture centred solely on Europe, we enter a diverse and vibrant world. Banaji reveals the cantons of Muslim merchants trading in Guangzhou since the eighth century, the 3,000 European traders recorded in Alexandria in 1216, the Genoese, Venetians and Spanish Jews battling for commercial dominance of Constantinople and later Istanbul. We are left with a rich and global portrait of a world constantly in motion, tied together and increasingly dominated by a pre-industrial capitalism. The rise of Europe to world domination, in this view, has nothing to do with any unique genius, but rather a distinct fusion of commercial capitalism with state power.



“In this majestic work of critical historical scholarship, Jairus Banaji has built a de finitive argument that commercial capitalism is the essence of capitalism, that it has dominated eras usually asserted to be pre-capitalist, and that it has persisted into the present.”—BARBARA HARRISS-WHITE, emeritus professor of development studies, Wolfson College, Oxford University

“This book is Jairus Banaji at his scholarly and provocative best. With his remarkable knowledge of world literatures, Banaji has produced a major exercise in the global and historical analysis of capitalism, affecting how we grasp capitalism today and how we understand and use Marx to do so—theory as history indeed.” —HENRY BERNSTEIN, emeritus professor of development studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

“With mind-boggling erudition, command over an extraordinary range of historical materials in multiple languages, and a theoretically sophisticated irreverence for received dogma, Jairus Banaji dislodges many a eurocentric account to offer an absorbing, thought-provoking, and truly global story of the emergence and varieties of capitalism.”—LALEH KHALILI, professor of international politics, Queen Mary University of London and author, Sinews of War and Trade

More praise for Jairus Banaji

“From the impact of slavery, the rise of the poor taking control, and the role of other philosophies and faiths impacting the discussion, Theory as History is a unique way to discuss history, economics, and the people behind it, a core addition to any community library history collection.”
—Midwest Book Review

“The great merit of this volume is that it establishes an approach for [the debates about the nature and origin of
capitalism] that is deeply theoretical, but at the same time refreshingly unhampered by the kind of doctrinaire attachment to a perceived (and often misread) orthodoxy that plagued so much of “historical materialism” for the past century. It is scholarly, without being purely academic … Banaji’s book deserves to be read and debated as one of the starting points for a new wave of Marxist historiography, still in the process of liberating itself from the ghost of its formalist past.” ”
—Pepijn Brandon, International Socialism

“Banaji’s seemingly idiosyncratic but in fact highly sophisticated and original approach to historical analysis provides not only a welcome stimulus and a challenge for scholars today, but also will give them plenty to think about for many years to come.” ”
—Marcel van der Linden, research director of the International Institute of Social History

Theory as History is a book written at the summit of a lifetime’s engagement with issues of Marxist theory and practice … Banaji’s work demonstrates that no aspect of human history is irrelevant to the present. His scholarship shows immense skill, depth and range … [proving] it is not the Marxist method that has been at fault, but the dominance of non-Marxist theory and method in the minds of Marxist.”

About the Author

Jairus Banaji spent most of his academic life at Oxford. He has been a Research Associate in the Department of Development Studies, SOAS, University of London, for the past several years. He is the author of Agrarian Change in Late Antiquity (Oxford, 2007), Theory as History (Haymarket Books, 2011) — for which he won the prestigious Isaac and Tamara Deutsche Memorial Prize — and numerous other volumes and articles.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Haymarket Books; Brief edition (August 11, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 200 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 1642591327
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1642591323
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.4 x 0.6 x 8.3 inches

How the Old World Ended: The Anglo-Dutch-American Revolution 1500-1800: Jonathan Scott

A magisterial account of how the cultural and maritime relationships between the British, Dutch and American territories changed the existing world order – and made the Industrial Revolution possible

Between 1500 and 1800, the North Sea region overtook the Mediterranean as the most dynamic part of the world. At its core the Anglo-Dutch relationship intertwined close alliance and fierce antagonism to intense creative effect. But a precondition for the Industrial Revolution was also the establishment in British North America of a unique type of colony – for the settlement of people and culture, rather than the extraction of things.

England’s republican revolution of 1649–53 was a spectacular attempt to change social, political and moral life in the direction pioneered by the Dutch. In this wide-angled and arresting book Jonathan Scott argues that it was also a turning point in world history.

In the revolution’s wake, competition with the Dutch transformed the military-fiscal and naval resources of the state. One result was a navally protected Anglo-American trading monopoly. Within this context, more than a century later, the Industrial Revolution would be triggered by the alchemical power of American shopping.


“Everything about this book is bravura: its conceptual originality, scope and ambition, its rich and close reading of texts and its brilliant writing. It exudes the joy of both discovery and recovery and it exudes the power of startling connections.“—John Morrill FBA, Emeritus Professor of British and Irish History, University of Cambridge, and Fellow of Selwyn College

“In Jonathan Scott we have a master of political and religious history, and of the history of political thought, who transcends geographical space and time periods so that he can write a genuine ‘histoire totale’ of a critical phase in world history. As he did in England’s Troubles, Scott in this stimulating book makes the very timely case for why, in seeking the roots of England’s remarkable early modern and subsequent political and economic developments, an Anglo-Dutch comparative framework is fruitful – far more so than one which stresses exceptionalism or separateness from the rest of Europe.”—Richard M. Smith, Emeritus Professor of Historical Geography and Demography and Fellow of Downing College

“Incredibly ambitious, wide-ranging and fluent. How The Old World Ended is a good and stimulating (and sometimes annoying) read, and it nails its colours to the mast in relation to the contemporary significance of the developments it narrates.”—Michael J Braddick, Professor of History, University of Sheffield

“A superbly engrossing history of perhaps the most momentous period since the Stone Age. By turns sweeping and intimate, it demonstrates how the political events of that age – the English, American, and French Revolutions – were never separate from the social, economic, scientific, religious, and natural experiences of those living through them. Anyone interested in how we got into our present state will find things to provoke, excite, and infuriate on every page. “—Adrian Johns, Professor of History, University of Chicago

About the Author

Jonathan Scott is Professor of History at the University of Auckland. His previous publications include England’s Troubles and When the Waves Ruled Britannia.

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Yale University Press (January 7, 2020)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Hardcover ‏ : ‎ 392 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0300243596
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0300243598
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.85 pounds
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 6.3 x 1.4 x 9.4 inches