Why has history so often turned the economic and political hierarchy of nations topsy-turvy? This book examines the evidence of the last 500 years to challenge the two dominant narratives on the answers to this question. It argues that the explanation lies neither in the quality of institutions that societies possess nor in their capacities for technological innovation. What matters for the economic and political success of a country, it claims, is the interaction between current technological knowledge and global demand on the one hand and its geography and the population it inherits from its past on the other. Those societies succeed whose endowments best fit the requirements of current technology and world demand. It hardly matters who developed the technology.
In the process of examining the patterns that inform the fates of nations over time, Reversals of Fortune charts the economic histories of Western Europe and Asia from the sixteenth century to the present day.
A compelling tour de force, this book reshapes and rethinks global history. The volume will be a fascinating read for scholars of history and economics, especially economic history and human geography.
Table of Contents
1. The Problem
2. The Mysteries of Technological Progress
3. Ocean Navigation and The Grand Reversal
4. A Short Note on New World Reversals
5. The First Industrial Nation and its Many Reversals Of Fortune
6. Full Circle
Ashok Sanjay Guha is Professor Emeritus at the School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India. He has also taught at Yale, the University of California (Berkeley), UCLA, Syracuse University, the University of Colorado, the University of Melbourne and the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex. He has been a consultant to the World Bank, the Planning Commission, the Ministries of Finance and Commerce, Government of India, the University Grants Commission, the Union Public Service Commission, the Indian Council of Social Science Research and the All India Council of Technical Education. In 1982, he was awarded the VKRV Rao Prize for outstanding contribution by an Indian economist.
A few of his recent publications include the volumes Economics without Tears: A New Approach to an Old Discipline (2017), Markets and Morals: Some Ethical Issues in Economics (2011) and many pieces in major international scholarly journals and Indian newspapers.