100 books like The Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages, 950-1350

By Robert S. Lopez,

Here are 100 books that The Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages, 950-1350 fans have personally recommended if you like The Commercial Revolution of the Middle Ages, 950-1350. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of The Great Transformation: The Political and Economic Origins of Our Time

Michael Zakim Author Of Accounting for Capitalism: The World the Clerk Made

From my list on modern capitalist economy.

Who am I?

As both a scholar and a citizen I have spent my adult life seeking to better understand the dynamics of power, especially power wielded in flagrantly unjust fashion in societies otherwise founded on notions of life, liberty, and happiness for all. This has led me to study the history of the economy, not just as a material but as a cultural system that encodes the categories of modern life:  self and society, private and public, body and soul, and needs and desires.

Michael's book list on modern capitalist economy

Michael Zakim Why did Michael love this book?

The Great Transformation, in which Karl Polanyi explores “the political and economic origins of our time,” is arguably the most important history of the economy ever written. 

Polanyi published his study during the dark times of the twentieth century in an attempt to trace the origins of modern fascism (a task that has lost none of its relevance in the twenty-first century). He located those origins in the industrial transformation of land, labor, and money – the foundations of social existence – into full-fledged commodities, that is to say, into ephemeral vehicles of profit. 

The resulting market society, touted by liberals as the source of universal freedom and equality, brought personal and communal disaster for those less advantageously positioned to compete in the new economy. The price, Polanyi argues, has been catastrophic.

By Karl Polanyi,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Great Transformation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this classic work of economic history and social theory, Karl Polanyi analyzes the economic and social changes brought about by the "great transformation" of the Industrial Revolution. His analysis explains not only the deficiencies of the self-regulating market, but the potentially dire social consequences of untempered market capitalism. New introductory material reveals the renewed importance of Polanyi's seminal analysis in an era of globalization and free trade.


Book cover of Rabbit Is Rich

Frederick Kaufman Author Of The Money Plot: A History of Currency's Power to Enchant, Control, and Manipulate

From my list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin.

Who am I?

I am an English professor, and for the past decade I’ve focused my attention on the fiction that is money. I’ve also been a magazine writer for many years and came to money by a circuitous route through writing about food, which led to writing about global hunger, which in turn led to writing about how food gets its price, which finally and lastly led me to the strange ways of Wall Street – options, futures, and the idea that money can be manipulated into a story, a narrative, or as we say in English departments, a plot.

Frederick's book list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin

Frederick Kaufman Why did Frederick love this book?

This is a novel from the “go-go ‘80s,” and delivers an insight into the money culture of modern middle class America. It’s a deep, comedic, and sad story of marriage, sex, gold, and dollars. The subtle characterizations gave me a strong sense of the human side of money, its emotional weight and valence—indeed, its pathos.

By John Updike,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Rabbit Is Rich as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the National Book Critics Circle Award
 
The hero of John Updike’s Rabbit, Run, ten years after the events of Rabbit Redux, has come to enjoy considerable prosperity as the chief sales representative of Springer Motors, a Toyota agency in Brewer, Pennsylvania. The time is 1979: Skylab is falling, gas lines are lengthening, and double-digit inflation coincides with a deflation of national self-confidence. Nevertheless, Harry “Rabbit” Angstrom feels in good shape, ready to enjoy life at last—until his wayward son, Nelson, returns from the West, and the image of an old…


Book cover of A Grammar of Motives

Frederick Kaufman Author Of The Money Plot: A History of Currency's Power to Enchant, Control, and Manipulate

From my list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin.

Who am I?

I am an English professor, and for the past decade I’ve focused my attention on the fiction that is money. I’ve also been a magazine writer for many years and came to money by a circuitous route through writing about food, which led to writing about global hunger, which in turn led to writing about how food gets its price, which finally and lastly led me to the strange ways of Wall Street – options, futures, and the idea that money can be manipulated into a story, a narrative, or as we say in English departments, a plot.

Frederick's book list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin

Frederick Kaufman Why did Frederick love this book?

This is one of those lost academic works of genius of the 1950s, in which Burke, an English Professor, uses the idea of “grammar” to explain the motivations of characters in dramatic situations. This book inspired me to write about money as a quite literal “plot”—a way people tell stories about themselves and the universe.

By Kenneth Burke,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Grammar of Motives as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mr. Burke contributes an introductory and summarizing remark, "What is involved, when we say what people are doing and why they are doing it? An answer to that question is the subject of this book. The book is concerned with the basic forms of through which, in accordance with the nature of the world as all men necessarily experience it, are exemplified in the attributing of motives. These forms of though can be embodied profoundly or trivially, truthfully or falsely. They are equally present in systematically elaborated or metaphysical structures, in legal judgements, in poetry and fiction, in political and…


Book cover of The Measure of Reality: Quantification in Western Europe, 1250-1600

Frederick Kaufman Author Of The Money Plot: A History of Currency's Power to Enchant, Control, and Manipulate

From my list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin.

Who am I?

I am an English professor, and for the past decade I’ve focused my attention on the fiction that is money. I’ve also been a magazine writer for many years and came to money by a circuitous route through writing about food, which led to writing about global hunger, which in turn led to writing about how food gets its price, which finally and lastly led me to the strange ways of Wall Street – options, futures, and the idea that money can be manipulated into a story, a narrative, or as we say in English departments, a plot.

Frederick's book list on what money is, from beginning to Bitcoin

Frederick Kaufman Why did Frederick love this book?

This is one of the most lucid explanations of our modern culture of numbers, and deals with topics ranging from music and architecture to, of course, money. It was the “big think” book that most inspired me to consider money not as something in and of itself, but as an artifact of a culture, transformed by time, place, and the genius of individuals.

By Alfred W. Crosby,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Measure of Reality as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Western Europeans were among the first, if not the first, to invent mechanical clocks, geometrically precise maps, double-entry bookkeeping, precise algebraic and musical notations, and perspective painting. By the sixteenth century more people were thinking quantitatively in western Europe than in any other part of the world. The Measure of Reality, first published in 1997, discusses the epochal shift from qualitative to quantitative perception in Western Europe during the late Middle Ages and Renaissance. This shift made modern science, technology, business practice and bureaucracy possible.


Book cover of Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not: Global Economic Divergence, 1600-1850

Yasuhiro Makimura Author Of Yokohama and the Silk Trade: How Eastern Japan Became the Primary Economic Region of Japan, 1843-1893

From my list on cities, their trades, and world trade.

Who am I?

One of the oldest questions is: why are some countries rich and some countries poor? Adam Smith famously answered that it was the division of labor (specialization) and trade in his book The Wealth of Nations. The more you study trade, however, the more complicated the answer becomes. I have been grappling with this question since the 1990s, as a student, and I still do not have a simple answer like Adam Smith. However, I think I have come up with a framework to understand how the economic history of the world developed and I have been teaching that global history in college as a professor since the 2010s.

Yasuhiro's book list on cities, their trades, and world trade

Yasuhiro Makimura Why did Yasuhiro love this book?

Most people think Europe grew rich through industrialization and free trade. What they don’t realize is that this industrialization was initially started because of protectionism. Prasannan Parthasarathi shows how Britain banned the import of Indian cotton cloth, known as Calico, and developed its own industry. The free trade happened only after Britain succeeded in industrializing.

By Prasannan Parthasarathi,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not provides a striking new answer to the classic question of why Europe industrialised from the late eighteenth century and Asia did not. Drawing significantly from the case of India, Prasannan Parthasarathi shows that in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries the advanced regions of Europe and Asia were more alike than different, both characterized by sophisticated and growing economies. Their subsequent divergence can be attributed to different competitive and ecological pressures that in turn produced varied state policies and economic outcomes. This account breaks with conventional views, which hold that divergence occurred because…


Book cover of Caliban and the Witch: Women, the Body and Primitive Accumulation

Jared Davidson Author Of Dead Letters: Censorship and Subversion in New Zealand 1914-1920

From my list on radical history that rocked my world.

Who am I?

As a reader, I want to be thrown into the heady world of revolution, to learn how everyday people made history, to see what they saw and feel what they felt. And I want a book that challenges mainstream narratives of the past. Radical history does this through gripping storytelling and revealing hidden histories of power. As a writer that tries to shine a light on lesser-known aspects of New Zealand’s past, these five books are both my ‘how-to’ and inspiration. I love to share the stories of people who are often left out of history but nonetheless made it. And being an archivist means questions of power and memory are always lurking.

Jared's book list on radical history that rocked my world

Jared Davidson Why did Jared love this book?

If The Many-Headed Hydra revealed a hidden history of the revolutionary Atlantic, Caliban and the Witch totally upended my understanding of witches, gender, and the rise of capitalism. A landmark text that sent shockwaves across the history field, Silvia Federici’s writing on the role of unwaged and reproductive labour in the making of the modern world is unrivaled. In a testament to its power and reach, Penguin released a new edition in 2021. A book to give to every socialist dude-bro or those who doubt the importance of gender to profit and power. 

By Silvia Federici,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Caliban and the Witch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'A groundbreaking work . . . Federici has become a crucial figure for . . . a new generation of feminists' Rachel Kushner, author of The Mars Room

A cult classic since its publication in the early years of this century, Caliban and the Witch is Silvia Federici's history of the body in the transition to capitalism. Moving from the peasant revolts of the late Middle Ages through the European witch-hunts, the rise of scientific rationalism and the colonisation of the Americas, it gives a panoramic account of the often horrific violence with which the unruly human material of pre-capitalist…


Book cover of Savage Continent: Europe in the Aftermath of World War II

Ursula Wong Author Of Amber Wolf

From my list on WWII and Eastern Europe (that you may not know about).

Who am I?

I’m a Lithuanian-American with a Chinese name, thanks to my husband. Thirty years ago, I found papers among my uncle’s possessions telling a WWII story about our ancestral Lithuania. I had heard about it in broad terms, but I could hardly believe what I was reading. I spent years validating the material. The result was Amber Wolf, a historical novel about a war within the war: the fight against the Russian occupation of Eastern Europe. While many countries were involved in separate struggles, I focused on Lithuania and their David and Goliath fight against the Russian army. After all this time, the story still moves me.

Ursula's book list on WWII and Eastern Europe (that you may not know about)

Ursula Wong Why did Ursula love this book?

Mr. Lowe’s meticulous research of post-WWII Europe gives startling insight into how devastated the continent was after the war.

He paints a picture of lawlessness and depravity, arguably as bad as battle conditions had been. In some cases, it might have been worse. Revenge killings, rapes, and starvation were among the horrors. It begs the question, when did WWII really end? 

By Keith Lowe,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Savage Continent as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Keith Lowe's Savage Continent is an awe-inspiring portrait of how Europe emerged from the ashes of WWII.

The end of the Second World War saw a terrible explosion of violence across Europe. Prisoners murdered jailers. Soldiers visited atrocities on civilians. Resistance fighters killed and pilloried collaborators. Ethnic cleansing, civil war, rape and murder were rife in the days, months and years after hostilities ended. Exploring a Europe consumed by vengeance, Savage Continent is a shocking portrait of an until-now unacknowledged time of lawlessness and terror.

Praise for Savage Continent:

'Deeply harrowing, distinctly troubling. Moving, measured and provocative. A compelling and…


Book cover of How Europe Underdeveloped Africa

Marc Epprecht Author Of Hungochani: The History of a Dissident Sexuality in Southern Africa

From my list on social justice in Africa.

Who am I?

I first travelled to Zimbabwe in 1984, eager both to “build scientific socialism” but also to answer two big questions. How can people proclaim rage at certain injustices yet at the same time perpetuate them against certain other people? And, could I learn to be a better (more empathetic) man than my upbringing inclined me towards? Years of teaching in the rural areas, and then becoming a father taught me “yes” to the second question but for the first, I needed to continue to pursue that knowledge with colleagues, students, mentors, friends and family. Today, my big question is, how can we push together to get these monsters of capitalism, patriarchy, homophobia, racism, and ecocide off our backs?

Marc's book list on social justice in Africa

Marc Epprecht Why did Marc love this book?

The canon of anti-colonial, anti-racism writing from and about Africa includes many authors whose passion and insights are sometimes muddied by turgid or masculinist prose. For me, Rodney stands out – and stands the test of time – by the way he so masterfully weaves history into a compelling narrative that utterly demolishes the lies and conceits about supposed Western benevolence toward the continent. Scales fell from my eyes the first time (of many) I read this book. And yes, Rodney is almost as androcentric in his language, sources, and arguments as was the norm in those days. But his acknowledgment of the dignity of African women is implicit, and his discussion of the regressive elements of the colonial economy and education for African women and girls presaged a field of scholarly enquiry and activism that still intrigues me.

By Walter Rodney,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked How Europe Underdeveloped Africa as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The classic work of political, economic, and historical analysis, powerfully introduced by Angela Davis In his short life, the Guyanese intellectual Walter Rodney emerged as one of the leading thinkers and activists of the anticolonial revolution, leading movements in North America, South America, the African continent, and the Caribbean. In each locale, Rodney found himself a lightning rod for working class Black Power. His deportation catalyzed 20th century Jamaica's most significant rebellion, the 1968 Rodney riots, and his scholarship trained a generation how to think politics at an international scale. In 1980, shortly after founding of the Working People's Alliance…


Book cover of Europe and the People Without History

Brett Bowden Author Of The Strange Persistence of Universal History in Political Thought

From my list on humankind’s place in history.

Who am I?

The search for meaning in history is all part of the search for meaning in life. Whether archaeologists or historians, economists or physicists, they are not just looking for artefacts when digging in the dirt or scanning the skies, they are looking for evidence to piece together a bigger picture—meaning in the minutiae. I’m sceptical, but the philosophy of history remains a fascinating subject, which is why I’ve explored ideas about civilization, progress, and progressive history in a number of books and articles. My primary concern about teleological accounts of history is that they tend to deny people's agency, especially non-Western peoples.

Brett's book list on humankind’s place in history

Brett Bowden Why did Brett love this book?

This is another important work by an anthropologist challenging the genealogy of the West and its ideas and institutions. It exposes the myth of history as a supposed moral success story: ancient Greece… Rome… Christian Europe… Renaissance… Enlightenment… liberal democracy… the pursuit of happiness, etc. Wolf systematically highlights why this is a flawed and fraught notion, especially for those people who do not fit neatly into the schema.

By Eric R. Wolf,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Europe and the People Without History as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Offering insight and equal consideration into the societies of the "civilized" and "uncivilized" world, "Europe and the People Without History" deftly explores the historical trajectory of so-called modern globalization. In this foundational text about the development of the global political economy, Eric R. Wolf challenges the long-held anthropological notion that non-European cultures and people were isolated and static entities before the advent of European colonialism and imperialism. Ironically referred to as "the People Without History" by Wolf, these societies before active colonization possessed perpetually changing, reactionary cultures and were indeed just as intertwined into the processes of the pre-Columbian global…


Book cover of Making Money in the Early Middle Ages

David Woodman Author Of Edward the Confessor: The Sainted King

From my list on early medieval Britain.

Who am I?

I am an Associate Professor of medieval history at Robinson College in the University of Cambridge. One exciting aspect of research about early medieval Britain is that there is always more to discover and understand, whether from artefacts being uncovered in archaeological excavations (like the Staffordshire Hoard), or from manuscripts that languish in archives and libraries across Britain without a modern translation and commentary. The books on this list—which offer insights into different aspects of early British life—are some of those that have captivated me most over my years of reading.

David's book list on early medieval Britain

David Woodman Why did David love this book?

It is electrifying to handle a coin from the early medieval period.

A typical coin from late tenth-century England will be made of silver, will have the king’s name, title, and bust imprinted on one side, and the name of the moneyer and of the mint on the other. These details alone raise questions: how was the coin used and by how many people? Where was it accepted and what kind of goods could it buy?

Rory Naismith, a leading historian and numismatist, provides answers to these questions and illuminates the development of the coinage system from the fall of Rome in the fifth century right through to the twelfth century. And his focus is exceptionally broad, taking in much of north-western Europe. It is an invaluable account that transforms our understanding of how money was actually used in the early medieval period.   

By Rory Naismith,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Making Money in the Early Middle Ages as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An examination of coined money and its significance to rulers, aristocrats and peasants in early medieval Europe

Between the end of the Roman Empire in the fifth century and the economic transformations of the twelfth, coined money in western Europe was scarce and high in value, difficult for the majority of the population to make use of. And yet, as Rory Naismith shows in this illuminating study, coined money was made and used throughout early medieval Europe. It was, he argues, a powerful tool for articulating people's place in economic and social structures and an important gauge for levels of…


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