The Origins of the Modern World: A Global and Ecological Narrative from the Fifteenth to the Twenty-first Century (2nd Edition) (World Social Change)

The Origins of the Modern World: A Global and Ecological Narrative from the Fifteenth to the Twenty-first Century (2nd Edition) (World Social Change)

Robert B. Marks

Language: English

Pages: 241

ISBN: 0742554198

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


This clearly written and engrossing book presents a global narrative of the origins of the modern world from 1400 to the present. Unlike most studies, which assume that the "rise of the West" is the story of the coming of the modern world, this history, drawing upon new scholarship on Asia, Africa, and the New World, constructs a story in which those parts of the world play major roles. Robert B. Marks defines the modern world as one marked by industry, the nation state, interstate warfare, a large andgrowing gap between the wealthiest and poorest parts of the world, and an escape from "the biological old regime." He explains its origins by emphasizing contingencies (such as the conquest of the New World); the broad comparability of the most advanced regions in China, India, and Europe; the reasons why England was able to escape from common ecological constraints facing all of those regions by the 18th century; and a conjuncture of human and natural forces that solidified a gap between the industrialized and non-industrialized parts of the world. Now in a new edition that brings the saga of the modern world to the present, the book considers how and why the United States emerged as a world power in the twentieth century and became the sole superpowerby the twenty-first century. Once again arguing that the rise of the United States to global hegemon was contingent, not inevitable, Marks also points to the resurgence of Asia and the vastly changed relationship of humans to the environment that may, inthe long run, overshadow any political and economic milestones of the past hundred years.

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sucking oxygen from the water and creating dead zones. Additionally, expanding consumption of beef has increased the global cattle population to two billion eating, drinking, defecating, and gas-emitting animals that also contribute to global warming. Logging and farmland expansion denude vast rain forests in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, altering local climates and driving thousands of species to extinction. To be sure, people have been burning or cutting down trees since the end of the last

sucking oxygen from the water and creating dead zones. Additionally, expanding consumption of beef has increased the global cattle population to two billion eating, drinking, defecating, and gas-emitting animals that also contribute to global warming. Logging and farmland expansion denude vast rain forests in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, altering local climates and driving thousands of species to extinction. To be sure, people have been burning or cutting down trees since the end of the last

cotton. French women found brightly painted Indian calicoes to be so fashionable that laws were passed in 1717 against wearing Indian cotton or Chinese silk clothing in order to protect the French home industry. One Paris merchant went so far as to offer to pay anyone 500 livres who would “strip . . . in the street, any woman wearing Indian fabrics.”17 I will have more to say about the place of textiles in the story of industrialization in the next chapter. Suffice it to say here that in the

II in the context of the Cold War between the United States (and its European allies) and the Soviet Union, the first and second worlds respectively. To chart a path with some independence from both the Americans and the Russians, “developing” but poor nations like India, Egypt, and Indonesia came to be known as the third world. By the 1970s, even poorer parts of the world, Africa in particular, became to be seen as the fourth world. All of these terms reflect the divisions of wealth and power

Revolution (1910–1920), ushering in land reform and limiting foreign ownership of Mexican natural resources. In China, revolutionaries toppled the Manchu dynasty in 1911, and after a decade of confusing warlord politics, two new political parties formed with explicitly nationalist goals. Cooperating in the 1920s to eliminate warlords, the revolutionaries threatened to break imperialist control of the modern sectors of China’s economy. In Italy, a new movement—fascism—emerged that was both

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