Eric Mielants provides a fresh, interdisciplinary interpretation of the origins of modernity in general and of capitalism in particular. He argues that, contrary to established thinking, the "Rise of the West" should not be examined through the lens of the Industrial Revolution or of the colonization of the New World but viewed through long-term developments that began in the Middle Ages. A fascinating overview of civilizations in East Asia, South Asia, and northwestern Africa is provided and then systematically compared to developments in Europe at the same time. Utilizing this analysis, the book addresses some of the most important current debates in world history, comparative sociology, political economy, sociological theory, and historical sociology. Mielants uncovers the ways that existing theories (such as Marxism, World-Systems Theory, and Smithian Modernization Theory) have suffered from either Eurocentric or limited temporal and spatial analyses, preventing them from fully explaining the reasons behind the emergence of capitalism in Western Europe.
If your taste runs to a dry and academic style (which fits fine here), and the topic seems interesting, you will find yourself rewarded. This did broaden and deepen and flesh out my impressions and views of the times and people covered, in Europe and Asia. The approach is a more modern one which openly addresses itself to various other historical schools, and employs an updated view of the development and big picture regional and global economies.
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