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Publisher's Summary

Most of us have a limited understanding of the powerful role economics has played in shaping human civilization. This makes economic history - the study of how civilizations structured their environments to provide food, shelter, and material goods - a vital lens through which to think about how we arrived at our present, globalized moment.

Designed to fill a long-empty gap in how we think about modern history, these 48 lectures are a comprehensive journey through more than 600 years of economic history, from the medieval world to the 21st century. Aimed at the layperson with only a cursory understanding of the field, An Economic History of the World since 1400 reveals how economics has influenced (and been influenced by) historical events and trends, including the Black Death, the Age of Exploration, the Industrial Revolution, the European colonization of Africa, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the birth of personal computing. Professor Harreld has crafted a riveting, centuries-long story of power, glory, and ideology that reveals how, in step with history, economic ideas emerged, evolved, and thrived or died.

Along the way, you'll strengthen your understanding of a range of economic concepts, philosophies, trends, treaties, and organizations, including the mercantile system, Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, Marxist economics, African independence movements, and the formation of economic organizations including the European Union. You'll also consider provocative questions about the intersection of history and economics. What did the economies of Roosevelt's America and Hitler's Germany have in common? What does history tell us about how nations should dictate economic policy? Can we say that free trade is truly free?

Marvel at just how much we still have to learn about the economic forces that have dictated our past - and that will dictate our future.

©2016 The Great Courses (P)2016 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about An Economic History of the World since 1400

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A must read book on history of economy

it gives a broader outlook on economy and history provides you the insight of today's affairs in economy and you find the answers why it happened this way ...why some nations are better off than others ...why some nations where rich historically are now poor ... science technology and innovation is the base for economic growth of any society at all age which provides better and cheaper goods / services are percolate it to greater section of society beyond the national boundaries and replace the old goods / services which in turn accelerate the growth of economy

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Ambitious task performed very well

From 1400 to 2009 is a big canvas chosen by the author and he is successful in giving a guided tour of the events that shaped economic history.
Since it is more of a lecture series than a book, every lecture is designed for around 29-30 minutes. Despite the limitation of time the author is successful in giving many points which the listener can explore to understand the subject matter. Very good book as a walking companion.

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Its a good journey

The content was chosen well. I just think 20th century shouldn’t be covered at all if you are just going to tape over waste swathes of knowledge in 15 minute chapters

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Economics in eyes of Economic Historian

Finished at my own pace but loved every bit of it. Strongly recommend for young generation before they get into a job. They would be able to use a different lens at work

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  • Tristan
  • 10-11-16

Slightly incoherent

I wish prof. Harreld would drop the written lecture and just talk about the subject he loves.

As it is, by apparently reading verbatim, he somehow has the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, his delivery sounds stilted and he garbles the meaning of sentences in an effort to sound natural. He refers to "extraordinary taxes," like they were HUGE, but in the next sentence it becomes clear he had meant the word in the legalistic sense of "extra-ordinary," as in ad-hoc. The listener is repeatedly thrown off-course and has to catch back up.

On the other hand, writing the lecture out hasn't contributed structure or coherence. He jumps back and fourth between times and subjects, introduces big thoughts only to abandon them, fails to wrap up themes or tie events back to his central ideas.

In short, I couldn't finish it. I got to the opening of global shipping lanes and jumped ship.

68 people found this helpful

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  • Rick
  • 27-10-16

Good content, tough to listen

If you're going to invest this kind of time into a subject you are obviously interested in it or at the very least, you are curious about it. In that regard, the audio book is interesting and educational. The narrator is tough to listen to. so many mistakes and miscues. How can The Great Courses not edit their audio books? Very disappointing as it took away from the content.

53 people found this helpful

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  • buddy
  • 10-12-16

Should be a required history class

The material in this book is outstanding. it provides a great framework for world history from the 1400s. As such it should be a first history book to read. As the title says this is a great course. It is not dramatic. But I couldn't stop listening to it because of the depth of the subject material.

11 people found this helpful

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  • John
  • 16-06-17

Economics fueled by Innovation & Invention

Any additional comments?

An enlightening, informative and enjoyable listen for anyone interested in what makes the world go around - or at least a big cog in the machine that makes it turn. Presented in a clear and concise format that is chronological and easy to follow. The narration by Prof. Herrald fits the topic well.

He begins with a bit of pre-history that leads up to 1400 so we understand the mind set of people at the time vis a vis money, trade & power. Then Prof. Herrald leads us on a journey that marks the major innovations that disrupted, transplanted or changed the major centers of trade & finance around the world. He identifies the reasons why some failed (mostly for lack of ability to adapt to new technologies) while others thrived and grew.

Worth noting is that it is not so much a history of economics as a history of how innovation & technology have driven change in human prosperity over the last 2000+ years. I would have loved more on how wealth (and desire for it) influenced actions. That is likely an entire course on its own.

This is one of the better TGCs I've had the opportunity to listen in on. If you are interested in the history of economics or technology this is a good primer.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Mike
  • 11-11-16

History for Economists, not vice-versa

Any additional comments?

This is very much a history lesson for economists, not economics for history buffs. If you are expecting the former you'd probably rate this higher. Not a bad course by any means, but in a milieu (The Great Courses) already bursting with amazing history courses, this book doesn't really stand out.

18 people found this helpful

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  • 02-06-17

It took me a LONG TIME to finish

It's a very general overview of history to illustrate some major economic terms and concepts as well as discuss how important economies of history were developed and maintained. It definitely overlaps with other history books I've read like The Silk Roads and that's a good thing. It just covers a broad time frame from colonialism to the computer age chapter by chapter. Interesting, but you may want to give up halfway through.

7 people found this helpful

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  • CollegeKidReviews
  • 28-11-16

Studying computer science

As a computer science student I want to know more about the decisions that brought our economic system to its current state. This book is a great early step.

7 people found this helpful

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  • Earth Lover
  • 19-09-16

Wish I'd Taken This Class As an Undergrad!

Any additional comments?

Excellent introductory survey. The half-hour lecture format limits in-depth discussions, but the author packs a lot into each session. Some coverage of non-Euro cultures such as China and Japan as well as the expected chapters on the textile industry, Industrial Revolution, Finance Capitalism, etc.
This is an inspiring undergrad-level course I wish had been offered when i was in school.

25 people found this helpful

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  • Cliente de Kindle
  • 27-10-16

Magnificent

This is an extraordinary history of the World. It is much more than an Economic History. It has Political, Social and Racial insights.

One of the best books. I'm listening to it again!!!

9 people found this helpful

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  • P. Smith
  • 12-01-17

Great Courses...NOT!

What would have made An Economic History of the World since 1400 better?

Actually discussing some economics. This author seems not to have any desire to discuss anything but preaching the dogma of Keynesian theory

What do you think your next listen will be?

No idea, but non fiction

What three words best describe Professor Donald J. Harreld’s performance?

Biased, boring, simplistic

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger, disappointment

Any additional comments?

So much lacking. So much misinformation. Example: he righty states that the British starved the Indian subcontinent for their cash crops, but when they did the same to the Irish, he blames the Irish, not mentioning that there was plenty of food to feed the Irish but it was shipped back to England to make whiskey and rye. nor that the British. we're determined to depopulate Ireland. he seems never to have heard of many of The economists of the 19th and twentieth century, Schopenhauer, Von Mises, Von Hayek, Rothbard, etc. These economists don't fit his world view that governments should control all things economic. he lauds the Soviet Union for its " progressive" economics, failing to mention the millions deliberately starved to death by these policies.
I have been listening to great courses for at least 30 years, since the days of cassette tapes. Never before have I been completely disappointed. this is NOT a great course. This's is not even a mediocre course. this is economic brainwashing 101

64 people found this helpful

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  • Mr. S. Peacock
  • 15-04-17

Superb narrative and intriguing perspectives

What made the experience of listening to An Economic History of the World since 1400 the most enjoyable?

The title could be misleading, because it is neither purely economics-based, nor is it correspondingly dry. Instead, it focusses on a range of technological developments that enhanced the economic advantages of different nation-states etc. at key points in history.

As a result, you're learning about exactly why the fortunes of nations were influenced by discoveries and innovations over hundreds of years.

There's a lot of wisdom in here, and even as an engineer, I found myself learning a lot about previous tech developments and appreciating how important they really were.

My favourite moment was the description of Germany's economy before the Nazi party started to gain power, truly fascinating - providing you don't already have the insight of course.

Whether you're in business, education, politics or needing to become well-rounded from any discipline such as economics, this is a must listen and is in my top three audiobooks. I doubt you'd get the broadness of perspective from studying economics alone, nor the same rigour from reading non-academic literature.

Additionally, the narrative is pitched correctly, it rarely gets tiring and maintains your attention. My acid test is can I maintain my attention whilst driving and this passes.

13 people found this helpful

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  • dp litchfield
  • 25-02-17

I enjoyed this

obviously this can only scratch the surface of the vast subject it is trying to cover. but it was a great introduction and I will definitely look out for another great course

5 people found this helpful

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  • Stephen Baldwin
  • 09-02-20

Exceptionally Read. Exceptionally Researched

Truly great. A well balanced, neuanced view. I trully understand the world so much more now. Even with the impressive length I was sad to get to the end! And the lecture notes are provided! Great great work.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-07-17

Really, really boring.

Somehow manages to make an interesting topic really really boring. I think it may be due to the narrator. He's very monotone and dull.

5 people found this helpful

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  • Labrador with class
  • 30-11-16

buy, listen, learn.

very well researched, excellent presentation. and it does indeed has a scope of 600 years. I really recommend this book to people who want to understand history, other people and themselves, even, better.

14 people found this helpful

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  • WP
  • 30-08-17

Western European-centred, insights into other continents but complete lack of insights (& understanding) of Eastern Europe

Western European-centred, insights into other continents but complete lack of insights (& understanding) of Eastern Europe. For example lack of mentioning that Eastern European nations didn't have or used slaves. Authors is happy to say that Eastern Europe was slower with introducing changes in social structure or in industrialisation but completely forgot to mention that wealth of Western Europe was built on slavery. Another mistake about understanding Eastern Europe is explaining plague. Authors explain that it didn't spread into Bohemia due to geomorphology but doesn't mention that there was no Plague in Poland that is mostly flat and has many rivers so authors explanation that plague didn't reach Eastern Europe due to hilly terrain doesn't quite meet facts. Also Another fact that first democratic election took part in Poland in June 1989 and East Germans started to flee into Poland and only then East German couldn't stop the democracy wave and allowed in October for wall to fall. Polish Solidarity movement started the change in Eastern Europe, not fall of Berlin Wall. Again author completely miss the point.

4 people found this helpful

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  • 22-06-20

Not for me

I wanted to try to step out of my comfort zone. But the narrator didn’t help. So I’m calling it quits on this one.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Dáibhí Ó Bruadair
  • 15-10-19

Superb

This was a really superb summary of economic history. Loads of fascinating aspects of history highlighted.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Peter White
  • 08-09-19

Disappointing

Superficial overview of world history, with an economic slant but hardly an economic history. Unfortunately not terribly interesting and frankly sloppy in its approach to accuracy. The author seemed to mispronounce every name or place, which was also wearing.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Simon Davidson
  • 27-03-17

Quite interesting but narrator lets his personal views get in the way

This was so far so good in til we arrived at the 20th century, but then the author let his personal views take over. Apparently the television was not invented by John Logie Baird, but by someone I've never heard of.

I did find the explanation of the birth of the EU very interesting. I agree with the author that the failure of the UK to join in 1957 was the gravest error made by the UK since WW2 and the chapter on American exceptionism is also interesting as this is a viewpoint we don't see in Europe.

However I was expecting a less biased approach.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-06-18

I have learnt a lot

For someone who doesn't know a lot about economics, this book clearly identified aspects in a language i could understand.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Alison
  • 05-02-19

An enlightening journey

I would thoroughly recommend this course to anyone wanting to understand the journey the world has taken to lead us to our present world economic situation. Very well presented, thorough and stimulating. I enjoyed the listen and many of my questions were answered. I learned much.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Nathanael Wallis
  • 18-05-18

very interesting and informative

Wow. this is like 40+ hours but it definitely is worth it. very well narratored. found it easy to listen to. the terminology used was well explained for those without an understanding of economics. obviously it covers a lot but nothing in too much detail. but definitely helped me to try and piece a few things together. would definitely recommend.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-02-19

Amazing stuff!

Very informative and it provides a comprehensive snapshot of the history of the world economy.
I would've liked to hear more of what was happening in Latin America because this region was pretty much left out of the lectures.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 19-06-18

Well constructed, thoroughly enjoyable

I have no formal qualifications in economics yet found this course totally accessible. It filled a gap in my knowledge. A fascinating overview of how economics is a driver of history. Key ideas are consolidated with examples. It very much presents a whole world view and includes stories of the thinkers who have tried to make sense of economics

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 28-01-21

You should listen to it.

You should listen to it. Here are ten more words so I can submit this.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 22-01-21

informative, and detailed

it's long but it does cover a lot of history and there is a lot of interesting stuff in there. good thing to listen to while you're doing chores around the house

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  • Marita
  • 19-11-20

Painless way to learn

Pretty good - all I have to do is listen for an hour a day in the car or going for a walk, and I get a whole course from an Economics professor giving me an overview of the development of Economics in the last few centuries. I found it incredibly helpful - mainly because it gave me such a good overview. You get a sense of the movements, the causes and the consequences over time. Big picture stuff. I'll be doing more Great Courses for sure.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 06-07-20

Deep insights delivered in an exploratory tone.

The author does an excellent job of framing the economic discussion within the broader socio-cultural environment of each time period.

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  • Alexander Dariush
  • 04-07-20

24 hours of absolute pleasure

a must to listen! even though the lecturer still sides with bloody thirsty western regimes and failed to expose the atrocities & genocide of indigenous populations by colonising power .For some reason nothing about Persian influence in world economy . Hypermarket of todays were Grand Bazar of Persia