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An Economic History of the World since 1400

Narrated by: Donald J. Harreld
Length: 24 hrs and 25 mins
Categories: History, World
4.5 out of 5 stars (231 ratings)

Non-member price: $73.77

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Publisher's Summary

Most of us have a limited understanding of the powerful role economics has played in shaping human civilization. This makes economic history - the study of how civilizations structured their environments to provide food, shelter, and material goods - a vital lens through which to think about how we arrived at our present, globalized moment.

Designed to fill a long-empty gap in how we think about modern history, these 48 lectures are a comprehensive journey through more than 600 years of economic history, from the medieval world to the 21st century. Aimed at the layperson with only a cursory understanding of the field, An Economic History of the World since 1400 reveals how economics has influenced (and been influenced by) historical events and trends, including the Black Death, the Age of Exploration, the Industrial Revolution, the European colonization of Africa, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the birth of personal computing. Professor Harreld has crafted a riveting, centuries-long story of power, glory, and ideology that reveals how, in step with history, economic ideas emerged, evolved, and thrived or died.

Along the way, you'll strengthen your understanding of a range of economic concepts, philosophies, trends, treaties, and organizations, including the mercantile system, Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, Marxist economics, African independence movements, and the formation of economic organizations including the European Union. You'll also consider provocative questions about the intersection of history and economics. What did the economies of Roosevelt's America and Hitler's Germany have in common? What does history tell us about how nations should dictate economic policy? Can we say that free trade is truly free?

Marvel at just how much we still have to learn about the economic forces that have dictated our past - and that will dictate our future.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2016 The Great Courses (P)2016 The Teaching Company, LLC

What members say

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    4 out of 5 stars
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I have learnt a lot

For someone who doesn't know a lot about economics, this book clearly identified aspects in a language i could understand.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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An enlightening journey

I would thoroughly recommend this course to anyone wanting to understand the journey the world has taken to lead us to our present world economic situation. Very well presented, thorough and stimulating. I enjoyed the listen and many of my questions were answered. I learned much.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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very interesting and informative

Wow. this is like 40+ hours but it definitely is worth it. very well narratored. found it easy to listen to. the terminology used was well explained for those without an understanding of economics. obviously it covers a lot but nothing in too much detail. but definitely helped me to try and piece a few things together. would definitely recommend.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Amazing stuff!

Very informative and it provides a comprehensive snapshot of the history of the world economy.
I would've liked to hear more of what was happening in Latin America because this region was pretty much left out of the lectures.

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Well constructed, thoroughly enjoyable

I have no formal qualifications in economics yet found this course totally accessible. It filled a gap in my knowledge. A fascinating overview of how economics is a driver of history. Key ideas are consolidated with examples. It very much presents a whole world view and includes stories of the thinkers who have tried to make sense of economics

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Great content - delivery clear but very montone

fascinating content covering modern history globally in great overview. Reader is a tad dry in tone but it is an arguably dry subject?

certainly learned things from this!

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Informative and Well presented.

Took me a while to finished, but it was easy to pick up again and again. Lecturer was eloquent and clear spoken, and conveyed topics in digestible pieces. I learned a great deal.

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Economics easy to understand

Good lectures in bite size chunks and structured in a way that is easy to understand and relate to your life. Would recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about the economic and social development of the world and economists who want to review their knowledge.

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Very interesting with a great narrator.

The narrator nails the lecture format with even the mistakes adding to the experience. I would Highly recommend this to anyone with a interest in Economics.

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What a wonderful walk through time

Enjoyed the alll the lectures immensely, thank you. Only seven more words to describe the splender of the course . A thrill to listen to.

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  • Tristan
  • 10-11-2016

Slightly incoherent

I wish prof. Harreld would drop the written lecture and just talk about the subject he loves.

As it is, by apparently reading verbatim, he somehow has the worst of both worlds. On the one hand, his delivery sounds stilted and he garbles the meaning of sentences in an effort to sound natural. He refers to "extraordinary taxes," like they were HUGE, but in the next sentence it becomes clear he had meant the word in the legalistic sense of "extra-ordinary," as in ad-hoc. The listener is repeatedly thrown off-course and has to catch back up.

On the other hand, writing the lecture out hasn't contributed structure or coherence. He jumps back and fourth between times and subjects, introduces big thoughts only to abandon them, fails to wrap up themes or tie events back to his central ideas.

In short, I couldn't finish it. I got to the opening of global shipping lanes and jumped ship.

56 of 58 people found this review helpful

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  • Rick
  • 27-10-2016

Good content, tough to listen

If you're going to invest this kind of time into a subject you are obviously interested in it or at the very least, you are curious about it. In that regard, the audio book is interesting and educational. The narrator is tough to listen to. so many mistakes and miscues. How can The Great Courses not edit their audio books? Very disappointing as it took away from the content.

47 of 49 people found this review helpful

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  • John
  • 16-06-2017

Economics fueled by Innovation & Invention

Any additional comments?

An enlightening, informative and enjoyable listen for anyone interested in what makes the world go around - or at least a big cog in the machine that makes it turn. Presented in a clear and concise format that is chronological and easy to follow. The narration by Prof. Herrald fits the topic well.

He begins with a bit of pre-history that leads up to 1400 so we understand the mind set of people at the time vis a vis money, trade & power. Then Prof. Herrald leads us on a journey that marks the major innovations that disrupted, transplanted or changed the major centers of trade & finance around the world. He identifies the reasons why some failed (mostly for lack of ability to adapt to new technologies) while others thrived and grew.

Worth noting is that it is not so much a history of economics as a history of how innovation & technology have driven change in human prosperity over the last 2000+ years. I would have loved more on how wealth (and desire for it) influenced actions. That is likely an entire course on its own.

This is one of the better TGCs I've had the opportunity to listen in on. If you are interested in the history of economics or technology this is a good primer.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • buddy
  • 10-12-2016

Should be a required history class

The material in this book is outstanding. it provides a great framework for world history from the 1400s. As such it should be a first history book to read. As the title says this is a great course. It is not dramatic. But I couldn't stop listening to it because of the depth of the subject material.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Mike
  • 11-11-2016

History for Economists, not vice-versa

Any additional comments?

This is very much a history lesson for economists, not economics for history buffs. If you are expecting the former you'd probably rate this higher. Not a bad course by any means, but in a milieu (The Great Courses) already bursting with amazing history courses, this book doesn't really stand out.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • .
  • 02-06-2017

It took me a LONG TIME to finish

It's a very general overview of history to illustrate some major economic terms and concepts as well as discuss how important economies of history were developed and maintained. It definitely overlaps with other history books I've read like The Silk Roads and that's a good thing. It just covers a broad time frame from colonialism to the computer age chapter by chapter. Interesting, but you may want to give up halfway through.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • CollegeKidReviews
  • 28-11-2016

Studying computer science

As a computer science student I want to know more about the decisions that brought our economic system to its current state. This book is a great early step.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Earth Lover
  • 19-09-2016

Wish I'd Taken This Class As an Undergrad!

Any additional comments?

Excellent introductory survey. The half-hour lecture format limits in-depth discussions, but the author packs a lot into each session. Some coverage of non-Euro cultures such as China and Japan as well as the expected chapters on the textile industry, Industrial Revolution, Finance Capitalism, etc.
This is an inspiring undergrad-level course I wish had been offered when i was in school.

22 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Cliente de Kindle
  • 27-10-2016

Magnificent

This is an extraordinary history of the World. It is much more than an Economic History. It has Political, Social and Racial insights.

One of the best books. I'm listening to it again!!!

9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • P. Smith
  • 12-01-2017

Great Courses...NOT!

What would have made An Economic History of the World since 1400 better?

Actually discussing some economics. This author seems not to have any desire to discuss anything but preaching the dogma of Keynesian theory

What do you think your next listen will be?

No idea, but non fiction

What three words best describe Professor Donald J. Harreld’s performance?

Biased, boring, simplistic

What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

Anger, disappointment

Any additional comments?

So much lacking. So much misinformation. Example: he righty states that the British starved the Indian subcontinent for their cash crops, but when they did the same to the Irish, he blames the Irish, not mentioning that there was plenty of food to feed the Irish but it was shipped back to England to make whiskey and rye. nor that the British. we're determined to depopulate Ireland. he seems never to have heard of many of The economists of the 19th and twentieth century, Schopenhauer, Von Mises, Von Hayek, Rothbard, etc. These economists don't fit his world view that governments should control all things economic. he lauds the Soviet Union for its " progressive" economics, failing to mention the millions deliberately starved to death by these policies.
I have been listening to great courses for at least 30 years, since the days of cassette tapes. Never before have I been completely disappointed. this is NOT a great course. This's is not even a mediocre course. this is economic brainwashing 101

45 of 58 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. S. Peacock
  • 15-04-2017

Superb narrative and intriguing perspectives

What made the experience of listening to An Economic History of the World since 1400 the most enjoyable?

The title could be misleading, because it is neither purely economics-based, nor is it correspondingly dry. Instead, it focusses on a range of technological developments that enhanced the economic advantages of different nation-states etc. at key points in history.

As a result, you're learning about exactly why the fortunes of nations were influenced by discoveries and innovations over hundreds of years.

There's a lot of wisdom in here, and even as an engineer, I found myself learning a lot about previous tech developments and appreciating how important they really were.

My favourite moment was the description of Germany's economy before the Nazi party started to gain power, truly fascinating - providing you don't already have the insight of course.

Whether you're in business, education, politics or needing to become well-rounded from any discipline such as economics, this is a must listen and is in my top three audiobooks. I doubt you'd get the broadness of perspective from studying economics alone, nor the same rigour from reading non-academic literature.

Additionally, the narrative is pitched correctly, it rarely gets tiring and maintains your attention. My acid test is can I maintain my attention whilst driving and this passes.

8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • dp litchfield
  • 25-02-2017

I enjoyed this

obviously this can only scratch the surface of the vast subject it is trying to cover. but it was a great introduction and I will definitely look out for another great course

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Labrador with class
  • 30-11-2016

buy, listen, learn.

very well researched, excellent presentation. and it does indeed has a scope of 600 years. I really recommend this book to people who want to understand history, other people and themselves, even, better.

13 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 21-07-2017

Really, really boring.

Somehow manages to make an interesting topic really really boring. I think it may be due to the narrator. He's very monotone and dull.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Simon Davidson
  • 27-03-2017

Quite interesting but narrator lets his personal views get in the way

This was so far so good in til we arrived at the 20th century, but then the author let his personal views take over. Apparently the television was not invented by John Logie Baird, but by someone I've never heard of.

I did find the explanation of the birth of the EU very interesting. I agree with the author that the failure of the UK to join in 1957 was the gravest error made by the UK since WW2 and the chapter on American exceptionism is also interesting as this is a viewpoint we don't see in Europe.

However I was expecting a less biased approach.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • DaveW
  • 26-11-2016

So "Europe is parochial" & every else is wondrous?

What would have made An Economic History of the World since 1400 better?

A neutral view of the world. This lecturer is a cultural Marxist and delighted at every instance in cultural self loathing. He should reflect on George Orwell's comments on the English intelligentsia and stealing for a poor box. Had he been present at the 1933 Oxford Union King of Country debate, he'd have voted in favour, to the delight of the enemies of freedom.

What could The Great Courses have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Just make it a history, not an indoctrination. If he doesn't like anglosphere exceptionalism he should just state it plainly, get over it, and avoid mixing the message all through the text.

How could the performance have been better?

Just focus on what happened and the ideas of the time.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from An Economic History of the World since 1400?

A camera close up on the author studying Cultural Marxism and his expressions of introspection.

Any additional comments?

Is this what passes for academia in 2016?

58 of 111 people found this review helpful

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  • Vee
  • 03-11-2019

A comprehensive history

A well balanced history comprising both events of the east and west. I enjoyed the chapter on India and China. However I wish economists explained concepts in simpler terms. I read this book to understand more about terms like neo-liberalism only for him to tell me a mere wikipedia definition of it.

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  • Dáibhí Ó Bruadair
  • 15-10-2019

Superb

This was a really superb summary of economic history. Loads of fascinating aspects of history highlighted.

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  • Peter White
  • 08-09-2019

Disappointing

Superficial overview of world history, with an economic slant but hardly an economic history. Unfortunately not terribly interesting and frankly sloppy in its approach to accuracy. The author seemed to mispronounce every name or place, which was also wearing.

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  • Senior Gato
  • 25-05-2019

Great book, poorly read

enjoyed the narrative but the speaker stumbled on some words during his reading and it was somewhat jarring.