The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century

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Overview

A monumental history of the nineteenth century, The Transformation of the World offers a panoramic and multifaceted portrait of a world in transition. Jürgen Osterhammel, an eminent scholar who has been called the Braudel of the nineteenth century, moves beyond conventional Eurocentric and chronological accounts of the era, presenting instead a truly global history of breathtaking scope and towering erudition. He examines the powerful and complex forces that drove global change during the "long nineteenth century," taking readers from New York to New Delhi, from the Latin American revolutions to the Taiping Rebellion, from the perils and promise of Europe's transatlantic labor markets to the hardships endured by nomadic, tribal peoples across the planet. Osterhammel describes a world increasingly networked by the telegraph, the steamship, and the railways. He explores the changing relationship between human beings and nature, looks at the importance of cities, explains the role slavery and its abolition played in the emergence of new nations, challenges the widely held belief that the nineteenth century witnessed the triumph of the nation-state, and much more.

This is the highly anticipated English edition of the spectacularly successful and critically acclaimed German book, which is also being translated into Chinese, Polish, Russian, and French. Indispensable for any historian, The Transformation of the World sheds important new light on this momentous epoch, showing how the nineteenth century paved the way for the global catastrophes of the twentieth century, yet how it also gave rise to pacifism, liberalism, the trade union, and a host of other crucial developments.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Jürgen Osterhammel, Winner of the 2012 Gerda Henkel Prize, of the Gerda Henkel Foundation

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2014

One of Marginal Revolution.com's (Tyler Cowen) Best Non-Fiction Books of 2014

"A work of tremendous conceptual precision, breadth and insight, a masterpiece that sets a new benchmark for debates on the history of world society."--Benjamin Ziemann, Times Literary Supplement

"[A] big book in every sense. . . . An age of such panoramic creations deserves a chronicler with suitably panoramic inclinations. It has found a very able one in Jurgen Osterhammel."--Jeffrey Wasserstrom, Wall Street Journal

"A milestone of German historical writing, one of the most important historical books of the last several decades. . . . [A] mosaic-like portrait of an epoch."--Jürgen Kocka, Die Zeit

"[W]eighty in every sense of the word. . . . [A]n epic, masterly and sprawling mosaic of the age that built on, if only as reaction, foundations laid down by the Enlightenment. . . . Osterhammel's compelling structuring brings home that the way we understand the world today is largely determined by institutions and innovations of the 19th century--and a peculiarly Eurocentric lens they provide. Alive to the potential for bias that this inevitably brings, the German historian has taken pains to create a genuinely world history of the age. . . . [T]he rendering of such a mind-boggling tapestry of human experience is deft and accessible."--Ben Richardson, South China Morning Post

"[A] 1165 pp. German Braudel-like take on the importance of the 19th century."--Tyler Cowen, Marginal Revolution

"[V]ast, weighty, original, enthralling, exhausting and intimidating. . . . [I]t is impossible to do it full and adequate justice, even in a lengthy review such as this. Part monster-piece, part masterpiece, its limitations are inescapably those of the global history genre. . . . [I]t is a work of prodigious scholarship and astonishing authorial stamina; within the confines of the subject, it raises the study of global history to a new level of academic sophistication and geographical comprehensiveness; it abounds with memorable phrases and aphorisms, which betoken a lively and playful mind; and it offers wise and original insights about the many ways in which the 19th century made the world that we still, today, inhabit. If you only read one work of history this summer (and, believe me, it will take you all of a very long summer), then The Transformation of the World should definitely be it."--Sir David Cannadine, Financial Times

"Massive . . . interesting . . . impressive. . . . The coverage is in many respects much greater than that of Braudel, not only geographically but also conceptually. . . . Osterhammel's ambition, industry and scale shows up the work of all-too-many other historians. Similar books should be produced for other centuries. Let us hope that British historians can rise to the challenge of writing them."--Jeremy Black, Standpoint

"This superb study gives form to a global history that lasts from the late 18th well into the 20th century and it does so without oversimplifying. It is exhilarating to find a system builder with such a feeling for nuance and difference. The only study comparable is Christopher Bayly's The Birth of the Modern World. This thick, dense book will prove most useful for scholars; the history enthusiast will find there is no match for this resource. In it, there is much to appreciate."--Library Journal (starred review)

"[A] work of panoramic scope and rare historical imagination."--Tony Barber, Financial Times

"Jürgen Osterhammel's fine The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century . . . swoops, shimmies and carves ellipses and spirals through the facts to give readers an insightful view of the nineteenth century in all its complexity and confusion. In a great work of scholarship, Professor Osterhammel . . . and his able translator . . . Patrick Camiller have fashioned a remarkable picture of the nineteenth century. . . . [It] brings a new meaning to the term block buster."--Satyajit Das, naked capitalism

"Jürgen Osterhammel's rich and thoughtful book The Transformation of the World, skillfully translated by Patrick Camiller, has the great virtue of addressing with careful attention what was and was not transformed over the 19th century."--Frederick Cooper, Public Books

"Writing meaningfully about global history is ambitious at best, but this work on the 19th century succeeds. . . . Nearly every page offers new insights about world history and specific countries' global contexts. This book is eminently suitable for advanced general readers and undergraduates and should be mandatory reading for all graduate students of modern history as a way to set their own specializations in a broader context."--Choice

"There have been two massive history books published this year that deserve to be widely read. One is the English translation of The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century by the German historian Jürgen Osterhammel."--Christopher Sylvester, Financial Times

"Professor Jurgen Osterhammel's fine book is anything but a linear recitation of events. Instead, it swoops, shimmies and carves ellipses and spirals through facts to give readers a remarkable picture of the 19th century, which has shaped much of the present world."--Satyajit Das, Bloomberg Businessweek

"The patient reader who finishes this 1,000-page tour of the 19th century emerges with a richer, deeper grasp, a better sense of what is truly unique about the global village, and global Asia, of our own times. This is world history at its best."--John Delury, Global Asia

From the Publisher
Jrgen Osterhammel, Winner of the 2012 Gerda Henkel Prize, of the Gerda Henkel Foundation

" A work of tremendous conceptual precision, breadth and insight, a masterpiece that sets a new benchmark for debates on the history of world society."—Benjamin Ziemann, Times Literary Supplement

"A milestone of German historical writing, one of the most important historical books of the last several decades. . . . [A] mosaic-like portrait of an epoch."—Jürgen Kocka, Die Zeit

From the Publisher
Jrgen Osterhammel, Winner of the 2012 Gerda Henkel Prize, of the Gerda Henkel Foundation

" A work of tremendous conceptual precision, breadth and insight, a masterpiece that sets a new benchmark for debates on the history of world society."—Benjamin Ziemann, Times Literary Supplement

"A milestone of German historical writing, one of the most important historical books of the last several decades. . . . [A] mosaic-like portrait of an epoch."—Jürgen Kocka, Die Zeit

Library Journal
★ 06/01/2014
Even if the 19th century was not yet wholly modern, it was the gateway to the modern age, setting patterns (inklings of a global economy, the gradual triumph of liberal institutions, the start of a worldwide communication system) that would dominate the century to come. With its emphasis on the analysis of systems and networks, this grand synthesis is as much social science as history but is infused with the sensitivity to difference (variance, exception) that the best historians bring to their work. Osterhammel's principal area of study is Chinese history: that focus is a virtue for this book because it brings a perspective that sees a broader civilization than just an imperial Western world with a tail. This superb study gives form to a global history that lasts from the late 18th well into the 20th century and it does so without oversimplifying. It is exhilarating to find a system builder with such a feeling for nuance and difference. The only study comparable is Christopher Bayly's The Birth of the Modern World. VERDICT This thick, dense book will prove most useful for scholars; the history enthusiast will find there is no match for this resource. In it, there is much to appreciate.—David Keymer, Modesto, CA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780691147451
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press
  • Publication date: 4/13/2014
  • Series: America in the World
  • Edition description: Translated by Patrick Camiller.
  • Pages: 1192
  • Sales rank: 123,919
  • Product dimensions: 6.60 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 2.30 (d)

Meet the Author


Jürgen Osterhammel is a distinguished scholar of the history of modern China and professor of modern and contemporary history at the University of Konstanz. He is the 2010 recipient of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize, Germany's most prestigious academic prize. His books in English include Globalization: A Short History (Princeton) and Colonialism.
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Table of Contents

Preface xi
Introduction xv
PART ONE: APPROACHES
I Memory and Self-Observation: The Perpetuation of the Nineteenth Century 3
1 Visibility and Audibility 5
2 Treasuries of Memory and Knowledge 7
3 Observation, Description, Realism 17
4 Numbers 25
5 News 29
6 Photography 39
II Time: When Was the Nineteenth Century? 45
1 Chronology and the Coherence of the Age 45
2 Calendar and Periodization 49
3 Breaks and Transitions 52
4 The Age of Revolution, Victorianism, Fin de Siécle 58
5 Clocks and Acceleration 67
III Space: Where Was the Nineteenth Century? 77
1 Space and Time 77
2 Metageography: Naming Spaces 78
3 Mental Maps: The Relativity of Spatial Perspective 86
4 Spaces of Interaction: Land and Sea 94
5 Ordering and Governing Space 104
6 Territoriality, Diaspora, Borders 107
PART TWO: PANORAMAS
IV Mobilities 117
1 Magnitudes and Tendencies 117
2 Population Disasters and the Demographic Transition 124
3 The Legacy of Early Modern Migrations: Creoles and Slaves 128
4 Penal Colony and Exile 133
5 Ethnic Cleansing 139
6 I nternal Migration and the Changing Slave Trade 144
7 Migration and Capitalism 154
8 Global Motives 164
V Living Standards: Risk and Security in Material Life 167
1 The Standard of Living and the Quality of Life 167
2 Life Expectancy and "Homo hygienicus" 170
3 Medical Fears and Prevention 178
4 Mobile Perils, Old and New 185
5 Natural Disasters 197
6 Famine 201
7 Agricultural Revolutions 211
8 Poverty and Wealth 216
9 Globalized Consumption 226
VI Cities: European Models and Worldwide Creativity 241
1 The City as Norm and Exception 241
2 Urbanization and Urban Systems 249
3 Between Deurbanization and Hypergrowth 256
4 Specialized Cities, Universal Cities 264
5 The Golden Age of Port Cities 275
6 Colonial Cities, Treaty Ports, Imperial Metropolises 283
7 Internal Spaces and Undergrounds 297
8 Symbolism, Aesthetics, Planning 311
VII Frontiers: Subjugation of Space and Challenges to Nomadic Life 322
1 Invasions and Frontier Processes 322
2 The North American West 331
3 South America and South Africa 347
4 Eurasia 356
5 Settler Colonialism 368
6 The Conquest of Nature: Invasions of the Biosphere 375
VIII Imperial Systems and Nation-States: The Persistence of Empires 392
1 Great-Power Politics and Imperial Expansion 392
2 Paths to the Nation-State 403
3 What Holds Empires Together? 419
4 Empires: Typology and Comparisons 429
5 Central and Marginal Cases 434
6 Pax Britannica 450
7 Living in Empires 461
IX International Orders, Wars, Transnational Movements: Between Two World Wars 469
1 The Thorny Path to a Global System of States 469
2 Spaces of Power and Hegemony 475
3 Peaceful Europe, Wartorn Asia and Africa 483
4 Diplomacy as Political Instrument and Intercultural Art 493
5 Internationalisms and the Emergence of Universal Norms 505
X Revolutions: From Philadelphia via Nanjing to Saint Petersburg 514
1 Revolutions--from Below, from Above, from Unexpected Directions 514
2 The Revolutionary Atlantic 522
3 The Great Turbulence in Midcentury 543
4 Eurasian Revolutions, Fin de Siècle 558
XI The State: Minimal Government, Performances, and the Iron Cage 572
1 Order and Communication: The State and the Political 572
2 Reinventions of Monarchy 579
3 Democracy 593
4 Bureaucracies 605
5 Mobilization and Discipline 616
6 Self-Strengthening: The Politics of Peripheral Defensive 625
7 State and Nationalism 629
PART THREE: THEMES
XII Energy and Industry: Who Unbound Prometheus, When, and Where? 637
1 Industrialization 638
2 Energy Regimes: The Century of Coal 651
3 Paths of Economic Development and Nondevelopment 658
4 Capitalism 667
XIII Labor: The Physical Basis of Culture 673
1 The Weight of Rural Labor 675
2 Factory, Construction Site, Office 685
3 Toward Emancipation: Slaves, Serfs, Peasants 697
4 The Asymmetry of Wage Labor 706
XIV Networks: Extension, Density, Holes 710
1 Communications 712
2 Trade 724
3 Money and Finance 730
XV Hierarchies: The Vertical Dimension of Social Space 744
1 Is a Global Social History Possible? 744
2 Aristocracies in (Moderate) Decline 750
3 Bourgeois and Quasi-bourgeois 761
XVI Knowledge: Growth, Concentration, Distribution 779
1 World Languages 781
2 Literacy and Schooling 788
3 The University as a Cultural Export from Europe 798
4 Mobility and Translation 808
5 Humanities and the Study of the Other 814
XVII Civilization and Exclusion 826
1 The "Civilized World" and Its "Mission" 826
2 Slave Emancipation and White Supremacy 837
3 Antiforeignism and "Race War" 855
4 Anti-Semitism 865
XVIII Religion 873
1 Concepts of Religion and the Religious 873
2 Secularization 880
3 Religion and Empire 887
4 Reform and Renewal 894
Conclusion: The Nineteenth Century in History 902
1 Self-Diagnostics 902
2 Modernity 904
3 Again: The Beginning or End of a Century 906
4 Five Characteristics of the Century 907
Abbreviations 921
Notes 923
Bibliography 1021
Index 1119

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