Alan Ryan

Knowledge is Power

A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy

By

Princeton University Press 403pp £24.95 order from our bookshop

One of the great mysteries of history is what has sometimes been called the ‘Great Divergence’ and sometimes the ‘Great Enrichment’: the economic takeoff that saw Europe, and subsequently much of the rest of the world, become vastly richer than before. Joel Mokyr opens this deeply engrossing book by saying,

The world today is richer than it has ever been. We know a great deal about the economic transformations that made it this way thanks to a vast literature examining every possible aspect of modern economic growth taking place since ca. 1800. We know what happened, and we know more or less how and where it happened. What remains very much a mystery is why.

This is a question to which Marx, Max Weber and a host of later economists offered very different answers.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'I was dumbfounded by the view of the Berlin Wall from the eastern side. It seemed inconceivable that in under thre… ,
    • RT : Danger for ‘local’ staff, access in exchange for silence (and logos) - all sounds familiar in this fascinating look… ,
    • 'He has long been eclipsed by Vermeer, though his interiors are arguably more ambitious.' David Gelber on the Dutc… ,
    • 'The wicked are truly revolting and the rage is wholly understandable' on new thrillers by John Le… ,
    • In @aaciman's sequel to 'Call Me By Your Name', 'Erotic urgency has merged with middle age’s frugality of heart', s… ,
    • 'The repression of free speech in Uganda is common. Reporters Without Borders’ 2019 Press Freedom Index ranks Ugand… ,
    • RT : The Topeka School is out today! I reviewed it for and I'm psyched to see him talking at the Tate tonigh… ,