The Origins of the Modern World: A Global and Ecological Narrative from the Fifteenth to the Twenty-first Century / Edition 2

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Overview

This clearly written and engrossing book presents a global narrative of the origins of the modern world from 1400 to the present. Unlike most studies, which assume that the "rise of the West" is the story of the coming of the modern world, this history, drawing upon new scholarship on Asia, Africa, and the New World, constructs a story in which those parts of the world play major roles.

Robert B. Marks defines the modern world as one marked by industry, the nation state, interstate warfare, a large and growing gap between the wealthiest and poorest parts of the world, and an escape from "the biological old regime." He explains its origins by emphasizing contingencies (such as the conquest of the New World); the broad comparability of the most advanced regions in China, India, and Europe; the reasons why England was able to escape from common ecological constraints facing all of those regions by the 18th century; and a conjuncture of human and natural forces that solidified a gap between the industrialized and non-industrialized parts of the world.

Now in a new edition that brings the saga of the modern world to the present, the book considers how and why the United States emerged as a world power in the twentieth century and became the sole superpower by the twenty-first century. Once again arguing that the rise of the United States to global hegemon was contingent, not inevitable, Marks also points to the resurgence of Asia and the vastly changed relationship of humans to the environment that may, in the long run, overshadow any political and economic milestones of the past hundred years.

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Editorial Reviews

Education About Asia - Adrian Carton
Marks is eminently well-qualified to bring Asia to the front of the story about the origins of the modern world. . . . Inspired mostly through the work of André Gunder Frank and Ken Pomeranz, Marks writes a world history survey that is very useful for locating the place of China and India in the construction of the modern world.
U.S. Intellectual History - Joe Petrulionis
The Origins of the Modern World aims at the undergraduate student . . . but any teacher who has struggled with the question, 'When did American Civilization begin?' will see other applications. Inexpensive enough to consider as a supplemental reading requirement in a traditional Atlantic History class or even for an American History survey, this well designed textbook will orient students toward broader awareness, both historically and within their own world.
New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies - James Beattie
This is a splendid book that . . . brings together the very latest scholarship to provide a highly readable and erudite account of world history over the last half a millennium. . . . I thus thoroughly recommend this book.
World History Connected - Mary Watrous-Schlesinger
Praise for the first edition
A very useful tool for world history courses, undergraduate and graduate, as well as offering new concepts for scholars still locked in rigid territorial or national studies. . . . The composition in this concise book is clear and topics are interestingly presented, while the source references make it useful for classroom research projects. . . . A helpful account of the principles and organization of trade in world history, written from a global perspective.
Dennis O. Flynn
PRAISE FOR THE FIRST EDITION
The best easily readable overview of the Eurocentric vs. World History debate yet. It should become a standard supplement in the college world history market.
Kenneth L. Pomeranz
PRAISE FOR THE FIRST EDITION
This is a concise and thought-provoking treatment of some major themes in world history: state-building, industrialization, environmental change, and the transformation of material life. The treatment of global inequality as a phenomenon in its own right?not just as a residue of more 'development' having occurred in some places than others?gives the book an important additional dimension. And as a single-authored work, it has a consistent and engaging voice that is hardto find in standard textbooks.
John R. McNeill
PRAISE FOR THE FIRST EDITION
An absorbing, crisp, and compact account of how the modern world got to be the way it is. This is the most accessible and comprehensive book yet written that takes into account the recent departures in world history scholarship. Marks sees the world as a whole, and paints a clear and compelling panorama of the transformations that changed history between 1400 and 1900.
Edward L. Farmer
PRAISE FOR THE FIRST EDITION
Splendid, fresh, forceful, and efficient. Marks has a clear focus on the Eurocentrism of most of the textbooks on world history and he has developed an effective, solidly grounded strategy to counter the problem. The ideas are challenging, and the prose is readable and engaging. Ideal for introductory surveys of world history.
Sarah Kovner
By far the best of the current world history books on the market. Its main strengths lie in its non-Eurocentric viewpoint, its clear narrative, and its brevity. I would (and have) unreservedly recommended the book to colleagues teaching in the field, as well as to others seeking a quick introduction to the history of the world.
Paul Solon
PRAISE FOR THE FIRST EDITION
Terrific! It's far and away the best of its type I've found in over thirty years of teaching. It's clear, succinct, and yet wonderfully comprehensive. It brings together all the current thinking in world history in about as nice a package as can be imagined.
Ewa K. Bacon
PRAISE FOR THE FIRST EDITION
I am delighted and excited by this book—it provides such an excellent overview of what world history is all about. The economy of the writing, the great balance the book displays in juggling an enormous agenda, and the elucidation of concepts are superb.
Pacific Affairs - James L. Huffman
Praise for the first edition
Marks convincingly discredits the standard Eurocentric narrative of mainstream historians, replacing it with a balanced story that places Asia at the centre prior to the 1800s and Europe (then, America) at the centre thereafter. [The author uses] a cogent, accessible style grounded in key historical concepts such as contingency, conjuncture, and accident.
Journal of World History - David Ringrose
Praise for the first edition
Sets out an analytical framework that is accessible to students while providing an approach to world history that aspires to be truly global. Remarkable in [its] presentation of coherent global narratives in less than two hundred pages. Marks's book has a strong emphasis on economic factors and Western coercion and exploitation and has a clear analytical framework. Closely accompanied by lecture and discussion, it could be used to frame a world history course for the period after 1400.
Martin Anderson
A lucid, accessible explanation of the interaction of world regions and the construction of globalization. A valuable work for undergraduates.
Thomas Saylor
I love this book—and more importantly, students do as well. Nothing beats it for putting global perspectives on the table in a readable and intelligent way.
Bram Hubbell
In my world history class from the Mongols to the present, I use The Origins of the Modern World, which students love. They enjoy the brevity of the book, as well as its clear and provocative thesis. It's also nice from a teaching point of view, since Marks uses footnotes and models the sort of writing we expect from students.
World History Connected
A very useful tool for world history courses, undergraduate and graduate, as well as offering new concepts for scholars still locked in rigid territorial or national studies. . . . The composition in this concise book is clear and topics are interestingly presented, while the source references make it useful for classroom research projects. . . . A helpful account of the principles and organization of trade in world history, written from a global perspective.
— Mary Watrous-Schlesinger
Pacific Affairs
Marks convincingly discredits the standard Eurocentric narrative of mainstream historians, replacing it with a balanced story that places Asia at the centre prior to the 1800s and Europe (then, America) at the centre thereafter. [The author uses] a cogent, accessible style grounded in key historical concepts such as contingency, conjuncture, and accident.
— James L. Huffman
Journal of World History
Sets out an analytical framework that is accessible to students while providing an approach to world history that aspires to be truly global. Remarkable in [its] presentation of coherent global narratives in less than two hundred pages. Marks's book has a strong emphasis on economic factors and Western coercion and exploitation and has a clear analytical framework. Closely accompanied by lecture and discussion, it could be used to frame a world history course for the period after 1400.
— David Ringrose
Education About Asia
Marks is eminently well-qualified to bring Asia to the front of the story about the origins of the modern world....Inspired mostly through the work of André Gunder Frank and Ken Pomeranz, Marks writes a world history survey that is very useful for locating the place of China and India in the construction of the modern world.
— Adrian Carton
U.S. Intellectual History
The Origins of the Modern World aims at the undergraduate student . . . but any teacher who has struggled with the question, "when did American Civilization begin?" will see other applications. Inexpensive enough to consider as a supplemental reading requirement in a traditional Atlantic History class or even for an American History survey, this well designed textbook will orient students toward broader awareness, both historically and within their own world.
— Joe Petrulionis
New Zealand Journal Of Asian Studies
This is a splendid book that...brings together the very latest scholarship to provide a highly readable and erudite account of world history over the last half a millennium....I thus thoroughly recommend this book.
— James Beattie, University of Waikato
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742554191
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/27/2006
  • Series: World Social Change Series
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 240
  • Sales rank: 93,446
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.45 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert B. Marks is Richard and Billie Deihl Professor of History at Whittier College.

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Material and Trading Worlds, circa 1400
Chapter 2: Starting with China
Chapter 3: Empires, States, and the New World, 1500–1775
Chapter 4: The Industrial Revolution and Its Consequences, 1750–1850
Chapter 5: The Gap
Chapter 6: The Great Departure
Chapter 7: Conclusion: Change and Continuities

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted December 4, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Incredibly Concise Look at Last 400 Years of History

    This book presents a global narrative of the last 400 years of history. It takes a look at the East's fall as the West came to power. Most Americans think that globalization is a modern (last 100 years) concept but this book easily dispels that myth. It looks at how the last 400 years is truly world history. Only 240 pages in length and well researched this is an easy read. The amount of knowledge gathered from this short reading is very useful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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