Why has history so often turned the economic and political hierarchy of nations topsy turvy? This book examines the evidence of the last five hundred 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, the book 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 fascinating read for scholars of history, especially economic history, human geography, economics, and general readers alike.
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