Pre-Industrial Societies: New Perspectives on the Past / Edition 1

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Oxford 1989 Paperback First Edition Very Good in No d/j as Published jacket 8vo-over 7?"-9?" tall. One would not normally expect students of biology to dissect frogs without ... prior knowledge of frog anatomy; yet students of history are regularly expected to analyse pre?modern institutions and events without any prior knowledge whatsoever of the general anatomy of pre?industrial societies. Gifted students will often acquire considerable knowledge of their particular areas ? own individual frogs, so to speak ? but the extent to which these conform to or depart from a common pattern remains unknown to them, a fact which seriously limits their capacity for interpretation. What goes for students goes for non?academic readers too. They have at their disposal a mountain of historical works written at every conceivable level of popularization and specialization. But most of these works are devoted to specific historical phenomena, or at most to a comparison between two or three; and those which attempt more general Read more Show Less

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Overview

One would not normally expect students of biology to dissect frogs without prior knowledge of frog anatomy; yet students of history are regularly expected to analyse pre-modern institutions and events without any prior knowledge whatsoever of the general anatomy of pre-industrial societies. Gifted students will often acquire considerable knowledge of their particular areas - own individual frogs, so to speak - but the extent to which these conform to or depart from a common pattern remains unknown to them, a fact which seriously limits their capacity for interpretation.

What goes for students goes for non-academic readers too. They have at their disposal a mountain of historical works written at every conceivable level of popularization and specialization. But most of these works are devoted to specific historical phenomena, or at most to a comparison between two or three; and those which attempt more general surveys tend to be either inordinately long or else inordinately abstract. Where does one turn for a brief summary of the ground-rules? A bluffer's guide to the behaviour of pre-modern societies does not seem to be available.

What this book attempts is precisely that: to offer a bluffer's guide to the nature of pre-industrial societies, or more precisely to pre-industrial societies of the complex type (omitting primitive societies whose nature, again, is different). It sketches out the general anatomy of all such societies without attempting a full description of any one; and it is neither excessively long nor (it is hoped) excessively abstract. Armed with this book, the reader ought to find the specific cultures, societies, institutions and events of pre-industrial history considerable less puzzling than they are when approached directly.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780631156628
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 1/16/1991
  • Series: New Perspectives on the Past Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 228
  • Product dimensions: 5.52 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.68 (d)

Meet the Author

Patricia Crone is Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford and University Lecturer in Islamic History.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
1 Introduction: What is a Complex Society? 1
Part I The Pre-Industrial Pattern
2 Socio-economic Organization 13
3 The State 35
4 Politics 58
5 Culture 81
6 Society and the Individual 99
7 Religion 123
Part II The Departure from the Pattern
8 The Oddity of Europe 146
9 Modernity 176
Further Reading 198
Index 205
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