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The Wheels of Commerce

by Fernand Braudel

ISBN 0060150912 / 9780060150914 / 0-06-015091-2
Publisher Harper & Row
Language English
Edition Hardcover
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Book summary

This is the second volume in Braudel's magnificent new three-volume social and economic history of the world from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution. This is history on a grand scale yet always on the human level. Written with immediacy and realism, the book is full of personal stories and examples culled from a lifetime of research by a master who wears his erudition lightly. The preceding volume, The Structures of Everyday Life, described the material context of the preindustrial world, outlining the limitations of what was possible and identifying the means of social and economic development. In The Wheels of Commerce, now published for the first time in English, Braudel turns his attention to the markets and exchanges that, from the start, have been the real motors of change. Peddlers, merchants, fairs, market stalls, the first stock exchanges, provide the human and economic subject matter. As always, Braudel sees them in their totality and in perpetual motion. Means of travel and communication, style of life and social .mores-all are brought to life with that marvelous specificity and imaginative power which are Braudel's hallmark. Out of this world of bargaining and bustle, of risk and disaster, of enormous wealth and dizzying success, emerges the beginning of the economic world we see around us, of multi-national companies and world-wide finance. The book is profusely illustrated with contemporary prints and drawings from around the world. FERNAND BRAUDEL was born in 1902, received a degree in history in 1923, and subsequently taught in Algeria, Paris and Sao Paulo. He spent five years as a prisoner of war in Germany, during which time he wrote his grand thesis, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, which was published in 1949. In 1946 he became a member of the editorial board of Annales, the famous journal founded by Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre, whom he succeeded at the College de France in 1949. [via]