The Origins of the Modern World
A Global and Ecological Narrative from the Fifteenth to the Twenty-first Century
Robert B. Marks
Narrated by Michael Sears
Approximately 8.5 hours
Book published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers
This clearly written and engrossing book presents a global narrative of the origins of the modern world from 1400 to the present. Unlike most studies, which assume that the "rise of the West" is the story of the coming of the modern world, this history, drawing upon new scholarship on Asia, Africa, and the New World, constructs a story in which those parts of the world play major roles.
Robert B. Marks defines the modern world as one marked by industry, the nation state, interstate warfare, a large and growing gap between the wealthiest and poorest parts of the world, and an escape from "the biological old regime." He explains its origins by emphasizing contingencies (such as the conquest of the New World); the broad comparability of the most advanced regions in China, India, and Europe; the reasons why England was able to escape from common ecological constraints facing all of those regions by the 18th century; and a conjuncture of human and natural forces that solidified a gap between the industrialized and non-industrialized parts of the world.
Now in a new edition that brings the saga of the modern world to the present, the book considers how and why the United States emerged as a world power in the twentieth century and became the sole superpower by the twenty-first century. Once again arguing that the rise of the United States to global hegemon was contingent, not inevitable, Marks also points to the resurgence of Asia and the vastly changed relationship of humans to the environment that may, in the long run, overshadow any political and economic milestones of the past hundred years.
Robert B. Marks is Richard and Billie Deihl Professor of History at Whittier College.
“This is a concise and thought-provoking treatment of some major themes in world history: state-building, industrialization, environmental change, and the transformation of material life. The treatment of global inequality as a phenomenon in its own right?not just as a residue of more 'development' having occurred in some places than others?gives the book an important additional dimension.”
— Kenneth L. Pomeranz, University of Chicago
“An absorbing, crisp, and compact account of how the modern world got to be the way it is. This is the most accessible and comprehensive book yet written that takes into account the recent departures in world history scholarship. Marks sees the world as a whole, and paints a clear and compelling panorama of the transformations that changed history between 1400 and 1900. ”
— John R. McNeill, Georgetown University
“Splendid, fresh, forceful, and efficient. Marks has a clear focus on the Eurocentrism of most of the textbooks on world history and he has developed an effective, solidly grounded strategy to counter the problem. The ideas are challenging, and the prose is readable and engaging. Ideal for introductory surveys of world history. ”
—Edward L. Farmer, University of Minnesota
“By far the best of the current world history books on the market. Its main strengths lie in its non-Eurocentric viewpoint, its clear narrative, and its brevity. I would (and have) unreservedly recommended the book to colleagues teaching in the field, as well as to others seeking a quick introduction to the history of the world. ”
—Sarah Kovner, University of Florida
“I am delighted and excited by this book—it provides such an excellent overview of what world history is all about. The economy of the writing, the great balance the book displays in juggling an enormous agenda, and the elucidation of concepts are superb. ”
—Ewa K. Bacon, Lewis University
“Marks is eminently well-qualified to bring Asia to the front of the story about the origins of the modern world....Inspired mostly through the work of André Gunder Frank and Ken Pomeranz, Marks writes a world history survey that is very useful for locating the place of China and India in the construction of the modern world. ”
—Adrian Carton; Education About Asia
“This is a splendid book that...brings together the very latest scholarship to provide a highly readable and erudite account of world history over the last half a millennium....I thus thoroughly recommend this book. ”
—James Beattie, University of Waikato; New Zealand Journal Of Asian Studies
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