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Economics and World History: Myths and…

Economics and World History: Myths and Paradoxes

by Paul Bairoch

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Paul Bairoch's "Economics and World History" aims to dispel many common myths about, well, economics and history. Although he addresses a multitude of different specific subjects and examples (like sugar trade and coal vs. oil), he focuses mainly on a few important issues that he impresses on the reader:

- Free trade is historically the exception, not the norm;
- Free trade does not lead to more growth for most nations;
- The 19th century had a much slower growth rate than the 20th, overall;
- Agricultural production in the Third World is more costly than in the First; and
- European colonialism was largely not profitable.

Bairoch does not pay much attention to showing whether these things really are common myths or not, but even if they aren't, it is still useful to have an overview of historical evidence regarding these subjects, especially considering the political consequences of some. And this he does very well: though the discussion of some more controversial claims is really too short to be entirely convincing, he clearly has done a great amount of research on the economic history of mainly the 19th and 18th centuries, and his discussion of the literature is clear and concise.

Overall he seems to prove his case in most, if not all, cases and particularly case for protectionism in underdeveloped nations, which he clearly supports. A good addition to economic and historical bookshelves. ( )
1 vote McCaine | Feb 2, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0226034631, Paperback)

Paul Bairoch sets the record straight on twenty commonly held myths about economic history. Among these are that free trade and population growth have historically led to periods of economic growth; that a move away from free trade caused the Great Depression; and that colonial powers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries became rich through the exploitation of the Third World. Bairoch argues that these beliefs are based on insufficient knowledge and misguided interpretations of the economic history of the United States, Europe, and the Third World.

"A challenging and readable introduction to some major controversial themes in modern international economic history."—Peter J. Cain, International History Review

"Paul Bairoch sheds fascinating light on many of the accepted truths of modern economic history: an intriguing account, well executed."—Alfred L. Malabre, Jr., Economics Editor, Wall Street Journal

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:38 -0400)

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