A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World

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Atlantic Books, 2008 - History - 467 pages
For anyone who loved Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel comes this vividly written, brilliantly original history of trade, the first for a generation.

Few historical enquiries tell us as much about the world we live in today as the search for the origins of world trade. As Adam Smith observed, man has an intrinsic 'propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another.' From the dawn of recorded history there has been vigorous long-distance commerce. Archaeologists have even found evidence of the prehistoric conveyance over long distances of strategic materials such as obsidian and stone tools. To demonstrate how profoundly trade influences our lives try to imagine Italian cuisine without the tomato, or a cafe anywhere in the world beyond coffee's birthplace in Yemen.

A Splendid Exchange sets out to establish just what drove early man to trade and to examine its profound influence on the world we know today. William Bernstein goes on to suggest that an analysis of one of the globe's most ancient forms of communication might teach us about how to avoid seemingly new anxieties about globalisation and the flattening of the world.

A Splendid Exchange challenges assumptions on both sides of the great ideological divide over free trade.

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