The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914

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This thematic history of the world from 1780 to the onset of the First World War reveals that the world was far more ‘globalised’ at this time than is commonly thought.

  • Explores previously neglected sets of connections in world history.
  • Reveals that the world was far more ‘globalised’, even at the beginning of this period, than is commonly...
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This thematic history of the world from 1780 to the onset of the First World War reveals that the world was far more ‘globalised’ at this time than is commonly thought.

  • Explores previously neglected sets of connections in world history.
  • Reveals that the world was far more ‘globalised’, even at the beginning of this period, than is commonly thought.
  • Sketches the ‘ripple effects’ of world crises such as the European revolutions and the American Civil War.
  • Shows how events in Asia, Africa and South America impacted on the world as a whole.
  • Considers the great themes of the nineteenth-century world, including the rise of the modern state, industrialisation and liberalism.
  • Challenges and complements the regional and national approaches which have traditionally dominated history teaching and writing.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"With its dazzling erudition and its vast scope, The Birth of the Modern World is a masterpiece of distance-annihilating synthesis…At a stroke, all other general histories of the nineteenth century have become parochial…I cannot think of any living historian who could match this feat. The rest of us must simply applaud." Niall Ferguson, University of Oxford

"Bayly's work is awe-inspiring in its breadth and authority. To write a history of this kind, the author must possess a command of his sources... outstanding lucidity and a capacity to organise immensely complex and disparate material; above all, perhaps, a sense of proportion and the ability to balance striking detail against swooping vision. All these Bayly enjoys in abundance. Readers will enjoy an invigorating and enriching experience." The Telegraph

"A truly global history, a work of great richness and jaw-dropping erudition that ranges effortlessly across the continents, laying out a complex, multifaceted picture of modernity. A brilliantly told global story." The Sunday Times

"A remarkable achievement. As an accomplished and innovative historian, Bayly has the rare ability not just to indicate the need for a 'global approach to historical change' but also to deliver, with scrupulous regard for the complexity of his subject. Empire and genocide, nationalism and modernity - these are grand themes enough for many a work of history, but they do not exhaust the range of Bayly's ambition and erudition. It is a tribute to Bayly's skill that his discussion can be read with as much profit by those who are familiar with the historical debates he engages with as by those previously innocent of them." Times Literary Supplement

"Chris Bayly's erudite and engrossing account of the global birthpangs of modernity is not only a landmark contribution to historical literature but, indirectly and without a hint of overt engagement, a pertinent addition to contemporary debates about globalisation and the world order. This is a book that historians, foreign policy elites and protagonists on both sides of the debate need to read.... Bayly has produced the most compelling and significant historical synthesis to appear for many years." London Review of Books

"An enormously important book in its approach to global history, it is also a riveting account of modern warfare, empire, nationalism and religion. Bayly holds the reader's attention across a history of kingdoms ... In turn, what he delivers is a fascinating challenge to contemporary understandings of globalisation, religious belief and the threads of Empire." The Times

"Christopher Bayly’s book will be essential reading for anyone seeking an historical angle on globalisation, and in particular on its impact on the world before 1914…No book I have ever read combines Bayly’s level of knowledge, clarity and insight on this vast and hugely important theme." Dominic Lieven, London School of Economics and Political Science

"The impact of this book will be as broad as its originality, currency, and force." Linda Colley, Princeton University

"This brilliant history of the 19th century offers remarkably lucid, supple analyses of the concepts around which this story revolves: modernity, nationalism, imperialism, the state, industrialisation. Bayly not only deftly summarises a startling range of complex previous literature, as well as integrating it effectively into his bigger picture, but also pushes many of those theoretical debates forward." Stephen Howe

"This book, by one of the foremost scholars of modern Indian history, is a sprawling smorgasbord ... a challenging and thought-provoking piece of world history." Journal of World History

Winner of the Wolfson History Prize 2004

Winner of the H-Soz-u-Kult Book Prize (World and International History)

"[A] magisterial synthesis" Journal of Modern History

"This is a brilliant book. Bayly's analytical approach merits high praise and the wealth of information he presents is admirable." Iberoamericana

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Product Details

Meet the Author

C.A. Bayly is Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of St Catharine’s College, Cambridge. He is winner of the 2004 Wolfson History Prize for his distinguished contribution to the writing of history.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Maps and Tables
Series Editor's Preface
Notes and Conventions
Introduction 1
Pt. I The End of the Old Regime 23
1 Old Regimes and "Archaic Globalization" 27
2 Passages from the Old Regimes to Modernity 49
3 Converging Revolution, 1780-1820 86
Pt. II The Modern World in Genesis 121
4 Between World Revolutions, c.1815-1865 125
5 Industrialization and the New City 170
6 Nation, Empire, and Ethnicity, c.1860-1900 199
Pt. III State and Society in the Age of Imperialism 245
7 Myths and Technologies of the Modern State 247
8 The Theory and Practice of Liberalism, Rationalism, Socialism, and Science 284
9 Empires of Religion 325
10 The World of the Arts and the Imagination 366
Pt. IV Change, Decay, and Crisis 393
11 The Reconstitution of Social Hierarchies 395
12 The Destruction of Native Peoples and Ecological Depredation 432
13 Conclusion: The Great Acceleration, c.1890-1914 451
Notes 488
Bibliography 514
Index 533
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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2007

    Brilliant study of the long 19th century

    In this outstanding book, Professor Bayly studies the world crises of 1776-1820 and 1848-65, and the great acceleration of 1890-1914, when imperial rivalries, industrialisation and urbanisation really took off. He allows, ¿Lenin¿s view that what we are calling here the great acceleration after 1890 was rooted in the uneven development of capitalism at a global level still has something to recommend it.¿ He accepts that empires were based on the drive for profits: ¿Classic Marxist and liberal theories of economic change have emphasised the rationality of expanding capitalism. On this theory, the aim of Western expansion was to seize resources and subordinate labour. This is true in great measure.¿ He shows how empires benefited the ruling classes of the imperial powers by exploiting the labour power of the world¿s workers and peasants. ¿The argument that European growth helped hold down living standards elsewhere works well for many areas of the incipient poor colonized `south¿ which became raw material exporters to the rich `north¿. This is clear if one examines the figures for the distribution of profits from some of the great nineteenth-century cash crops, such as raw cotton, hides, jute, cocoa, and palm oil. In all these cases, it was the overseas shippers, insurers, carriers and vendors in Europe and North America who took the vast proportion of `value added¿ to a quantity of produce in world trade. Local African, Asian, or South American merchants, let alone the peasant-producers, got only a very small percentage of the profits. On the other side, developing economies were forced to buy in at high cost the machinery for processing these agricultural raw materials. Thus the terms of trade were very much to the disadvantage of the `south¿ throughout the nineteenth-century, and actually deteriorated as more relatively poor areas became producers of basic export crops.¿ Ruling classes gained, by impoverishing the masses. ¿Indeed, it can be suggested that the stasis in Europe was in part the product of the annexation to itself of a huge extra-European hinterland which could only be governed by force and conservatism. At the beginning of the nineteenth-century, empire-builders had argued that their brutal conquest paved the way for the rise of civilisation, trade, and humane government in erstwhile barbarous states. Asia and Africa would be transformed by Christianity, utilitarian government, the doctrine of the rights of man, and perhaps by American freedoms. The situation in 1900 hardly seemed to bear out these predictions. The urban population throughout the British and French empires in Asia and North Africa remained stubbornly stuck at about 10 percent of the total, barely changed from the precolonial figure, and standards of living may even have fallen over the previous century. Anecdotal evidence collected by the first generation of Asian and African nationalists asserted that many once-prosperous bodies of peasants and artisans were actually worse off and more dependent on magnates than they had been in 1800.¿ He concludes, ¿intensified rivalry between the great, technologically armed European powers was a critical reason for the great leap forward of European empires after 1870. ¿ The `great acceleration¿ ¿ the dramatic speeding up of global social, intellectual, and economic change after about 1890 ¿ set loose a series of conflicts across the world which quite suddenly, and not necessarily predictably, became unmanageable in 1913-14. This was undoubtedly a European Great War. Yet it was also a world war and, in particular, a worldwide confrontation between Britain and Germany. As many contemporaries acknowledged, this was a war which had its roots in Mesopotamia and Algeria, Tanganyika and the Caucasus, as well as on the Franco-German and German-Russian frontiers. In one sense, Lenin was right when he argued that the First World War was an `imperialist war¿. Economic, political, and cultural rivalries

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