The Birth of the Modern World, 1780-1914 / Edition 1

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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

  • ISBN-13: 9780631236160
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/15/2004
  • Series: Blackwell History of the World Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 568
  • Sales rank: 240,025
  • Product dimensions: 6.80 (w) x 9.70 (h) x 1.05 (d)

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 Tables And Maps.

Series Editor’s Preface.



The Organization Of The Book.

Problem One: ‘Prime Movers’ And The Economic Factor.

Problem Two: Global History And Post-Modernism.

Problem Three: The Continuing ‘Riddle Of The Modern’.

Conforming To Standards In Bodily Practice.

Building Out From The Body: Communications And Complexity.


Part I: The End of The Old Regime:.

1. Old Regimes And ‘Archaic Globalisation’:.

Peasants And Lords.

The Politics Of Difference.

Powers On The Fringes Of States.

Harbingers Of New Political Formations.

The Pre-History Of ‘Globalisation’.

‘Archaic’ And Early Modern Globalisation.


2. Passages From The Old Regimes To Modernity:.

The ‘Last Great Domestication’ And ‘Industrious Revolutions’.

New Patterns Of Afro-Asian Material Culture, Production And Trade.

The Internal And External Limits Of Afro-Asian ‘Industrious Revolutions.’.

Trade, Finance And Innovation: European Competitive Advantages.

The Activist, Patriotic State Evolves.

Critical Publics.

The Development Of Asian And African Ecumenes.

Conclusion: ‘Backwardness’, Lags And Conjunctures.

3. Convergent Revolutions, 1780–1820:.

Contemporaries Ponder The World Crisis.

A Summary Anatomy Of The World Crisis, C. 1720–1820.

Sapping The Legitimacy Of The State: From France To China.

The Ideological Origins Of The Modern State.

Nationalities Versus States And Empires.

The Third Revolution: Polite And Commercial Peoples Worldwide.


Part II: The Modern World In Genesis:.

4. Between World Revolutions, C. 1815–1860.

Assessing The ‘Wreck Of Nations’.

British Maritime Supremacy, World Trade And Agrarian Recovery.

Emigration: A Safety Valve.

The Losers In The ‘New World Order’, C. 1815–65.

Problems Of Hybrid Legitimacy – Whose State Was It?.

The State Gains Strength – But Not Enough.

Wars Of Legitimacy In Asia: A Summary Account.

Economic And Ideological Roots Of The Asian Revolutions.

The Years Of Hunger And Rebellion In Europe, 1848–51.

The American Civil War As A Global Event.

Convergence Or Difference?.

Reviewing The Argument.

5. Industrialisation And The New City:.

Historians, Industrialisation And Cities.

The Progress Of Industrialisation.

Cities As Centres Of Production And Consumption.

The Urban Impact Of The Global Crisis, 1780–1820.

Race And Class In The New City.

Working Class Politics.

World-Wide Urban Cultures And Their Critics.


6. Nation, Empire And Ethnicity: C. 1860–1900:.

‘Theories’ Of Nationalism.

When Was Nationalism?.

Whose Nationalism?.

Perpetuating Nationalisms: Memories, National Associations And Print.

From Community To Nation: The Eurasian Empires.

Where We Stand With Nationalism.

Peoples Without States; Persecution Or Assimilation?.

Imperialism And Its History In The Late Nineteenth Century.

Dimension Of The ‘New Imperialism’.

A World Of Nation States?.

The Persistence Of Old Patterns Of Globalisation.

From Globalisation To Inter-Nationalim.

Inter-Nationalism In Action.


Part III: State And Society In The Age of Imperialism:.

7. Myths And Technologies Of The Modern State.

Dimensions Of The Modern State.

The State And The Historians.

Problems Of Defining The State.

The Modern State Takes Root; Geographical Dimensions.

Claims To Justice And Symbols Of Power.

The State’s Resources.

The State’s Obligations To Society.

Tools Of The State.

State, Economy And Nation.

A Balance Sheet: What Had The State Achieved?.

8. The Theory And Practice Of Liberalism, Rationalism, Socialism And Science.

Contextualising ‘Intellectual’ History.

The Corruption Of The Righteous Republic: A Classic Theme.

Righteous Republics World-Wide.

The Advent Of Liberalism And The Market: Western Exceptionalism?.

Liberalism And Land Reform: Radical Theory And Conservative Practice.

Free Trade Or National Political Economy.

Representing The Peoples.

Secularism And Positivism: Trans-National Affinities.

The Reception Of Socialism And Its Local Resonances.

Science In Global Context.

Professionalisation At World Level.


9. Empires Of Religion:.

Religion In The Eyes Of Contemporaries.

The View Of Recent Historians.

The Rise Of New-Style Religion.

Modes Of Religious Domination, Their Agents And Their Limitations.

Formalising Religious Authority, Creating ‘Imperial Religions’.

Formalising Doctrines And Rites.

The Expansion Of ‘Imperial Religions’ On Their Inner And Outer Frontiers.

Pilrimage And Globalisation.

Printing And The Propagation Of Religion.

Religious Building.

Religion And The Nation.

Conclusion: The Spirits Of The Age.

10. The World Of The Arts And The Imagination:.

Arts And Politics.

Hybridity And Uniformity In Art Across The Globe.

Levelling Forces: The Market, The Everyday And The Museum.

The Arts Of The Emerging Nation And Empire 1760–1850.

Arts And The People 1850–1914.

Outside The West: Adaptation And Dependency.

Architecture: A Mirror Of The City.

Towards World Literature.

Conclusion: Arts And Societies.


Part IV: Change, Decay And Crisis:.

11. The Reconstitution Of Social Hierarchies:.

Change And The Historians.

Gender And Subordination In The ‘Liberal Age’.

Slavery’s Indian Summer.

The Peasant And Rural Labourer As Bond Serf.

The Peasant That ‘Got Away’.

Why Rural Subordination Survived.

The Transformation Of ‘Gentries’.

Challenges To The Gentry.

Routes To Survival: State Service And Commerce.

Men Of ‘Fewer Board Acres’ In Europe.

Surviving Supremacies.

Continuity Or Change?.

12. The Destruction Of ‘Native Peoples’ And Ecological Depredation:.

What Is Meant By Native Peoples?.

Europeans And Native Peoples Before C. 1820.

Native Peoples In The Age Of Hiatus?.

The White Deluge 1840–1890.

The Deluge In Practice: New Zealand, South Africa And The U.S.A.

Ruling Savage Natures: Recovery And Marginalisation.

13. Conclusion: The Great Acceleration: C.1890–1914:.

Predicting ‘Things To Come’.

The Agricultural Depression, Inter-Nationalism And The New Imperialism.

The Strange Death Of Inter-National Liberalism.

Summing Up: Globalisation And Crisis 1780–1914.

Global Interconnections 1780–1914.

What Were The Motors Of Change?.

Power In Global And Inter-National Networks.

Contested Uniformity And Universal Complexity Revisited.

August 1914.




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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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