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CHOICEVirginia Woolf tellingly observed, 'books have a way of influencing each other.' Focusing on France, particularly the 18th century, Clark illustrates this truth in his remarkable history of the concept of commerce. . . . The scholarship is extensive—Clark uses French national and provincial archives and libraries—and the arguments are compelling. Demonstrating that commerce had broad ramifications, Clark's 'compass' gives the Enlightenment 'party of liberty' an intriguing commercial cast. His description of old regime France as a 'low trust' society fractured by modernizing forces (absolutism and capitalism) is persuasive. He draws meaningful national comparisons, [and] marvelously captures the complexity of mistrust that stymied French reformers and revolutionaries well into the 19th century. . . . Highly recommended.
— L. A. Rollo