100 books like Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not

By Prasannan Parthasarathi,

Here are 100 books that Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not fans have personally recommended if you like Why Europe Grew Rich and Asia Did Not. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Nature's Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West

Xaq Frohlich Author Of From Label to Table: Regulating Food in America in the Information Age

From my list on explain the origins of our industrial food system.

Why am I passionate about this?

People tend to think of food as being simple and self-evident, or at least feel it should be. In fact, almost every aspect of modern food has been dramatically reshaped by science and technology. Something that fascinates me as a historian is thinking about past transformations in our foodways and how they explain the social tensions and political struggles we live with today. My book From Label to Table tells a biography of the food label, using it as a prism to explore Americans’ anxieties about industrial foodways. I found these books to be an excellent primer for understanding the emergence of America’s packaged food economy and its many problems.

Xaq's book list on explain the origins of our industrial food system

Xaq Frohlich Why did Xaq love this book?

Nature’s Metropolis is a rare work that transforms scholarship, yet whose easy flow and engaging tone make it approachable for non-specialists.

Its main arguments —how humans and cities are embedded in nature, the interwoven, strained ties between rural and urban, and how technologies transformed our connection to nature— are guiding themes of my own work. 

Reading the passage in this book about a sack’s journey, on how grain moved from farm to market before and after the appearance of the train in the West, was the spark that lit my imagination on how packaging transformed modern foodways.

By William Cronon,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked Nature's Metropolis as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this groundbreaking work, William Cronon gives us an environmental perspective on the history of nineteenth-century America. By exploring the ecological and economic changes that made Chicago America's most dynamic city and the Great West its hinterland, Mr. Cronon opens a new window onto our national past. This is the story of city and country becoming ever more tightly bound in a system so powerful that it reshaped the American landscape and transformed American culture. The world that emerged is our own.

Winner of the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize


Book cover of The Great Divergence: China, Europe, and the Making of the Modern World Economy

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

Taking us away from cities, this book will set your eyes on how these cities and their trades fit within a global framework. Kenneth Pomeranz argues that the key was the Americas which allowed Europe to engage in further specialization, and the fortunate location of coal in Britain, the country that started the industrial revolution. This industrial revolution was the key difference that led to the dominance of the West in global affairs.

By Kenneth Pomeranz,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Great Divergence brings new insight to one of the classic questions of history: Why did sustained industrial growth begin in Northwest Europe, despite surprising similarities between advanced areas of Europe and East Asia? As Ken Pomeranz shows, as recently as 1750, parallels between these two parts of the world were very high in life expectancy, consumption, product and factor markets, and the strategies of households. Perhaps most surprisingly, Pomeranz demonstrates that the Chinese and Japanese cores were no worse off ecologically than Western Europe. Core areas throughout the eighteenth-century Old World faced comparable local shortages of land-intensive products, shortages…


Book cover of From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean: The Global Trade Networks of Armenian Merchants from New Julfavolume 17

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

This book by David Aslanian features the Armenian merchants of the New Julfa district of the city of Isfahan in modern-day Iran. They conducted long-distance trade between India and Europe and competed against some of the giant corporations of the day such as the Dutch East India Company. The experts of the old silk road trade competed against the new maritime trades well into the nineteenth century.

By Sebouh Aslanian,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked From the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Drawing on a rich trove of documents, including correspondence not seen for 300 years, this study explores the emergence and growth of a remarkable global trade network operated by Armenian silk merchants from a small outpost in the Persian Empire. Based in New Julfa, Isfahan, in what is now Iran, these merchants operated a network of commercial settlements that stretched from London and Amsterdam to Manila and Acapulco. The New Julfan Armenians were the only Eurasian community that was able to operate simultaneously and successfully in all the major empires of the early modern world--both land-based Asian empires and the…


Book cover of ReOrient: Global Economy in the Asian Age

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

In ReOrient, A.G. Frank argues that this current situation in which the West is at the center of the world is a mere blip in terms of global history. Historically Asia was always the richer part of the globe and once again, in the near future, Asia will be the richest part of the globe again.

By Andre Gunder Frank,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Andre Gunder Frank asks us to re-orient our views away from Eurocentrism - to see the rise of the West as a mere blip in what was, and is again becoming, an Asia-centered world. In a bold challenge to received historiography and social theory he turns on its head the world according to Marx, Weber, and other theorists, including Polanyi, Rostow, Braudel, and Wallerstein. Frank explains the Rise of the West in world economic and demographic terms that relate it in a single historical sweep to the decline of the East around 1800. European states, he says, used the silver…


Book cover of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor

Liah Greenfeld Author Of The Spirit of Capitalism: Nationalism and Economic Growth

From my list on the relationship between capitalism and nationalism.

Why am I passionate about this?

The Spirit of Capitalism: Nationalism and Economic Growth is the second volume of my nationalism trilogy. When I published the first volume, Nationalism: Five Roads to Modernity, the accepted view on the subject of nationalism was that it is a product of economic development, specifically, of industrialization and capitalism. On the basis of historical evidence, I proved that its emergence had nothing to do with these economic phenomena: in fact, it preceded both. Reviews of Nationalism, noting that, for this reason, economic developments could not have caused nationalism, raised the question what relationship, then, did exist between nationalism and the economy, and this led me to investigate it. 

Liah's book list on the relationship between capitalism and nationalism

Liah Greenfeld Why did Liah love this book?

This book is a rare attempt by an eminent economic historian to examine cultural determinants of economic growth and answer the question why it happens, which distinguishes it sharply from the discipline’s exclusive focus on how it proceeds.

Landes, in other words, disentangles the explanation of causes from the preoccupation with the process, which is why I recommend this book.

By David S. Landes,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Wealth and Poverty of Nations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Now that the old division of the world into the two power blocs of East and West has subsided, the great gap in wealth and health that separates North and South remains the single greatest problem and danger facing the world of the Third Millennium. The only challenge of comparable scope and difficulty is the threat of the environmental deterioration, and the two are intimately connected, indeed are one. David Landes argues that the North-South division is the great drama of our times, and that drama implies tension, passion, conflict and disappointment as well as happy outcomes. While Landes does…


Book cover of The Future Is Asian: Commerce, Conflict, and Culture in the 21st Century

Andreas Schneider Author Of Enlightened Mobility: How we can surpass symbolic climate action & make transport carbon-free

From my list on how to make transport and mobility sustainable.

Why am I passionate about this?

I found my passion for sustainable mobility while working on my PhD thesis about electric cars at a time when no one was interested in electric cars. I am fascinated by the disruptive forces in the transportation space. With my long-term work experience in management consulting, corporate, academics, and startups, I’m trying to make a contribution to making transport carbon-free.  

Andreas' book list on how to make transport and mobility sustainable

Andreas Schneider Why did Andreas love this book?

This book shows how the future of our planet will be decided in Asia. It teaches us that when we aim to tackle climate change with impactful measures, it is not about America or Europe but about Asia.

With its tremendous size and growth in population, Asia will be the dominant continent in the world and therefore be key to solving the climate crisis.  

By Parag Khanna,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Five billion people, two-thirds of the world's mega-cities, one-third of the global economy, two-thirds of global economic growth, thirty of the Fortune 100, six of the ten largest banks, eight of the ten largest armies, five nuclear powers, massive technological innovation, the newest crop of top-ranked universities. Asia is also the world's most ethnically, linguistically and culturally diverse region of the planet, eluding any remotely meaningful generalization beyond the geographic label itself. Even for Asians, Asia is dizzying to navigate.

Whether you gauge by demography, geography, economy or any other metric, Asia is already the present - and it is…


Book cover of How Lives Change: Palanpur, India, and Development Economics

Thomas A. Timberg Author Of The Marwaris: From Jagat Seth to the Birlas

From my list on India now.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have been trying to understand India’s evolution especially its economic path for the last half-century— by reading, traveling, and writing on aspects of that evolution. Originally this started with the Cold War concern about how a democracy would navigate using a democratic political system. So I took appropriate courses in college and graduate school, worked in India in the Peace Corps, and then spent a little under a decade teaching about it a doing research. For the following five decades I have continued my interest and publishing and studying. Whether I have understood much is for others to determine but these are my five book nominees.

Thomas' book list on India now

Thomas A. Timberg Why did Thomas love this book?

This is ostensibly the third book documenting the history of a North Indian village from 1950 until today, but it also records much of the anthropological literature documenting the development in other villages in India over that period which parallels that in many other villages of South Asia. Viewed in the context of statistical data which is collected on a much broader scale this confirms the remarkable economic evolution India has experienced from basketcase to development model.

By Himanshu, Peter Lanjouw, Nicholas Stern

Why should I read it?

1 author picked How Lives Change as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Development economics is about understanding how and why lives change. How Lives Change: Palanpur, India, and Development Economics studies a single village in a crucially important country to illuminate the drivers of these changes, why some people do better or worse than others, and what influences mobility and inequality.

How Lives Change draws on seven decades of detailed data collection by a team of dedicated development economists to describe the evolution of Palanpur's economy, its society, and its politics. The emerging story of integration of the village economy with the outside world is placed against the backdrop of a rapidly…


Book cover of Theories of Underdevelopment

Nicos P. Mouzelis Author Of Post-Marxist Alternatives: The Construction of Social Orders

From my list on social sciences.

Why am I passionate about this?

After finishing my secondary education in Athens I got a degree in business administration at the University of Genova. The idea was to return to Greece to work in my father’s business. But I soon realized that I was neither interested in business theory nor going back to Greece to work in my father's organization. I decided to continue my studies in England focusing on the social sciences – first at Leicester University and then at the London School of Economics. After retiring I continued to write books and articles in Greek, English, and French. I have passion for reading and writing. It helps me psychologically as well to survive in a postmodern chaotic world.

Nicos' book list on social sciences

Nicos P. Mouzelis Why did Nicos love this book?

Roxborough’s work helped me to understand better the structure and development of peripheral and semiperipheral societies.

It was particularly useful to me as a part of my work has to do with the study Latin American and Balkan Societies. I personally recommend the book very strongly. It was an excellent guide for those interested in the sociology of development and underdevelopment.

By Ian Roxborough,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Theories of Underdevelopment as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Focusing on the effects of imperialism on class structures in Third World societies, Roxborough provides a historical explanation of the similarities and differences between these societies.


Book cover of Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World

Tanya Jakimow Author Of Susceptibility in Development: Micropolitics of Local Development in India and Indonesia

From my list on anthropology of development.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an anthropologist of development who has conducted ethnographic research in India, Indonesia, and more recently, Australia. Throughout my career I have grappled with questions of how power works in development, particularly in and through processes of self-making. I seek new theoretical tools to examine these questions, but always grounded in the realities of the everyday. I came of age when post-development critiques were dominant, but both my idealism and cynicism have been tempered by working alongside local development actors. In my work I try to give readers a sympathetic portrait of their lives, beliefs, and hopes, and how these shape practices, relationships, and consequences of ‘development’. 

Tanya's book list on anthropology of development

Tanya Jakimow Why did Tanya love this book?

This book changed everything I thought I knew about development.

It makes the compelling case that the project of international development creates the condition of ‘underdevelopment’.

Drawing on key thinkers of the time, Edward Said and Michel Foucault, Escobar shows how development as a domain of thought and action produces the ‘third world’ as a site for intervention by former colonial powers, thereby continuing the imperial project.

As someone familiar with local development, I (and others), don’t share his faith in grassroots organisations as a solution, but find his analytical tools critical in interrogating how they work.

And as a bonus, Escobar offers a pointy critique of anthropologists’ complicity in development as an imperial project. 

By Arturo Escobar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Encountering Development as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

How did the industrialized nations of North America and Europe come to be seen as the appropriate models for post-World War II societies in Asia, Africa, and Latin America? How did the postwar discourse on development actually create the so-called Third World? And what will happen when development ideology collapses? To answer these questions, Arturo Escobar shows how development policies became mechanisms of control that were just as pervasive and effective as their colonial counterparts. The development apparatus generated categories powerful enough to shape the thinking even of its occasional critics while poverty and hunger became widespread. "Development" was not…


Book cover of Americana: A 400-Year History of American Capitalism

Derek Lidow Author Of The Entrepreneurs: The Relentless Quest for Value

From my list on most truthful about how entrepreneurship works.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have had the unique experience of having been a successful CEO of a global publicly traded semiconductor company, a founder and CEO of an innovative and valuable startup, and now as a teacher and scholar of entrepreneurship and innovation. I’m a Professor of the Practice at Princeton University where I teach and write about being a successful entrepreneur. My three books on the subject are: Startup Leadership: How Savvy Entrepreneurs Turn Their Ideas Into Successful Enterprises; Building on Bedrock: What Sam Walton, Walt Disney, and Other Great Self-Made Entrepreneurs Can Teach Us About Building Valuable Companies; and THE ENTREPRENEURS: The Relentless Quest for Value

Derek's book list on most truthful about how entrepreneurship works

Derek Lidow Why did Derek love this book?

This is a book of 35 short chapters that each describe a slice of America’s development from a new country into the leader of the capitalist world… which is actually a story about entrepreneurship. Srinvasan’s style is very engaging, and the book is a page-turner. Each chapter describes the development of a market or new way of doing business, like “railroads,” “steel,” “banking,” and “advertising.” Once you’ve finished reading this book, you cannot help but marvel at what entrepreneurs have accomplished.

By Bhu Srinivasan,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

An absorbing and original narrative history of American capitalism

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2017 BY THE ECONOMIST

From the days of the Mayflower and the Virginia Company, America has been a place for people to dream, invent, build, tinker, and bet the farm in pursuit of a better life. Americana takes us on a four-hundred-year journey of this spirit of innovation and ambition through a series of Next Big Things -- the inventions, techniques, and industries that drove American history forward: from the telegraph, the railroad, guns, radio, and banking to flight, suburbia, and sneakers, culminating with the Internet…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in the economy, economic development, and Europe?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about the economy, economic development, and Europe.

The Economy Explore 193 books about the economy
Economic Development Explore 65 books about economic development
Europe Explore 907 books about Europe