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The Origins of the Modern World

3.53  ·  Rating Details  ·  308 Ratings  ·  27 Reviews
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 pla ...more
ebook, 240 pages
Published July 1st 2006 by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers (first published February 18th 2002)
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Apr 07, 2008 Otilia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My first question when I put it down was "Why didn't I have to read this in high school?" Clear, easy to read overview of often under-taught [or in US public schools, at least, taught from a perspective that leaves out a lot] parts of world history.
Sep 25, 2011 John rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book serves its purpose perfectly well, it just isn't something to really recommend as a read. This is for assigning to undergrads and grad students as the first reading in a world or global history class. Marks is attempting to get away from a Euro-centric model of recounting world history; he wants to re-orient world history to the...orient...sort of. He basically is arguing that the Indian Ocean world was the first place where all kinds of cultures came together to trade, and this is whe ...more
Alex Zakharov
It is hard being a historian and a justice crusader, you end up with tainted history and unmoved justice. Marks’ self-proclaimed goal is to provide a narrative for the development of the modern world (1400-1900) which is meant to ‘correct’ the Eurocentric view of history. Sadly he overshoots and instead paints an explicitly anti-Eurocentric view which suffers from the obverse set of biases relative to the ones he set out to correct. Luckily the book is pleasantly short and the sections where he ...more
Shahd Fadlalmoula
Apr 11, 2015 Shahd Fadlalmoula rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this was a terrific account of the development of global systems as we know them today. A little ironic, given that Marks who is a Westerner himself, is criticizing the eurocentric narrative on account of the fact that it's always the White man who writes about the rest of the world.

Moreover, this book is a good guide to understanding why there's a huge gap between developed and developing nations. It's also refreshing to hear someone say look the West isn't always right, they haven't
Justin Taylor
I think historian Robert Marks presented the context of modern civilization with a unique argument. The book entails details explaining the current explanation for Eurocentric influenced civilizations and empires. Then Robert Marks debunks most of those ideas and theories based on historical content exposing other civilizations as older and first advancers within a global context. Trading, Slavery, and China's powerful empires are the main focuses to support his argument. I enjoyed reading this ...more
Aug 28, 2008 Kaitlyn rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this for school during a period of three days- not cool. I t was hard to follow and only recommended if you have time to take it all in.
Elias Zuniga
Dec 19, 2015 Elias Zuniga rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
This is a superb book about world history, but it doesn't read like a history book. It has 2 primary arguments: 1. Contrary to popular opinion, "the West" (Europe and the United States) didn't dominate world history until about the 1850's. In contrast, "common knowledge" casts Europe, especially Spain, England, and Portugal, (and later the United States) as hegemonic since at least the time of Columbus voyages, around 1500. Mr. Marks' argument is both convincing and approachable because he provi ...more
Ben Sweezy
Apr 15, 2009 Ben Sweezy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Okay so I read this book again in 2009. The most obvious "review" sort of thing I can say is that it really trails off halfway through. When it gets into the 20th century the author ceases to offer anything new or interesting.

Otherwise, it still is pretty effective at getting its point across that China, India, and Europe all basically were at parity in 1700 and only began to diverge from there. He also really doesn't like the British.

I think some of his numbers may be a bit curious, including t
Bryan Schwartz
In the preface to his book, Robert Marks notes that he has “no intention of providing a balanced story, one that spends an equal amount of time (or ink) on anything and everything.” And, indeed, he doesn't. Though Marks is, unlike Geoffrey Parker, upfront in noting the limitations of his short survey, I am not convinced that this declaration afforded him the right to gloss over quite so much material as he does in his short history on the origins of the "modern world".

First, It seemed to me th
Mar 05, 2015 Ilona rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book if you want to learn history from a non Eurocentric point, easy to read and covers many points! Wish they made us read it in high school! I would highly recommend!
Bram Hubbell
Aug 07, 2014 Bram Hubbell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A concise and engaging short summary of the last 600 years of world history that draws on lots of current and recent research.
Donald Losey
Aug 18, 2015 Donald Losey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
concise, entertaining, and informative while still being accessible to non history buffs
Sofia Stenroos
It's an interesting book all right and it's good to get out of the Eurocentric view that he speaks of and see the global Picture instead. The only problem I have is the translation into Swedish. It really isn't THAT good to begin with and it has a lot of misspellings, Words that have their letters in the wrong order and such. The text also doesn't really add up structure wise, you can too often see the English grammar structures as opposed to the Swedish.

I regret that I didn't buy it in English
Jackie Keating
Jun 05, 2015 Jackie Keating rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was SO BORING
Oct 26, 2013 Nima rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book offers the best brief overview of world history that I have read to date covering the period of the 1400s to now. It is an eye opener on the extent of peaceful trade and travel occurring for over 500 years in the Eurasian areas, and the development and reasons behind armed trade originating in Europe due to blocked trade routes to the spices in Asia. Reading this book has led me to a number of other good books on trade and travel throughout the Middle East and Asia from 700 through the ...more
Feb 15, 2014 Maddy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I good synthesis for a global historical context. I good read for undergraduates and those interested in world history.
The title says it all on what the book's about, and it was a very interesting book, very well written. I really enjoyed reading this book (which is more than I can say about some of the other school books) as the author had a playful tone in his writing while still ramming in facts after facts.

Yeah, this book has been a saviour amongst the others.
Telly Ree
Apr 04, 2015 Telly Ree rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best history text I've read. Marks completely disregards the Eurocentric telling of world history by strictly focusing on contingency, conjuncture, and accidents. This books completely expels the myths of racial and culturally inferiority and superiority when it comes to the rise of Europe and America, and Western exceptionalism.
Jan 05, 2013 Chris rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is amazing. It is the first time that I was exposed to the whole world outlook on the coming of the modern age, something I have been needing for my next book. Prof. Marks is expert in China and has revealed more about the coming of the modern age than any other author I have read.
Jul 14, 2008 Wendy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: historians
This book was irritating because he spends a lot of time talking about how the world would be different today if a number of coincidences would have not all come together in the 1400's to the 1800's. I agreed with him, but things happened the way they did so who cares?
This book isn't that great for World history. It's short, takes a Eurocentric view most of the time, and isn't very detailed. You're better off getting a World history perspective and knowledge reading the McNeill's The Human Web.
Dec 23, 2015 Mallory rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: required-to-read
His thesis, while definitely not Eurocentric, was definitely not individual-friendly. He proposes that the inventiveness of the individual had nothing to do with anything of the past 600 years. Really?
Aug 27, 2008 Kimberly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
it was somewhat interesting in the end, but i found i would get lost several times throughout the rest of the book
but this isn't my sort of book any way (school reading)
May 23, 2013 Linda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
Interesting insights though not nuanced enough to definitively debunk Eurocentrism...
Oct 09, 2013 Peg rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: skeptics
some interesting sections but i found it a difficult to keep going on this one.
Jun 11, 2012 Sarah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: university-reads
Clear, easy to read. Perfect accompaniment to first year history!
Feb 28, 2015 Theadora rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Theadora by: UF 100: Competition
Shelves: read-for-school
I think the last line of the book really made it for me.
Danilo Marostegan
Danilo Marostegan marked it as to-read
Feb 08, 2016
Catie rated it did not like it
Feb 07, 2016
Mozhde Ft
Mozhde Ft rated it liked it
Feb 07, 2016
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