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Religion and the Rise of Capitalism

3.8 of 5 stars 3.80  ·  rating details  ·  106 ratings  ·  15 reviews
Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. Hesperides Press are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published November 1st 2008 by Hesperides Press (first published 1926)
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Feb 03, 2012 Werner rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any serious student of history or of Christian thought
A recent discussion, with a Goodreads friend, of Western socio-economic history and the accompanying socio-economic thought brought to mind this gem of a book, read in my early college days and a germinal influence on my own thought. (In terms of its effect on my thinking, I'd actually rank it as one of the most important books I've read, and I've upped my rating of it from four stars to five to reflect that.) Of course, my own strong personal reaction to the book will give the review below a st ...more
John Alt
Religion and the Rise of Capitalism, 1926. R.H. Tawney. The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, 1905. Max Weber

Both are classics in the literature of economic social science.

Tawney was born in 1880 in Calcutta (now Kolkata) and in 1960 was buried at Highgate Cemetery, North London, today a de facto nature reserve. He wore many hats: economic historian, social critic, ethical socialist, Christian socialist, and was influential in all of them. Add to that his great passion for adult edu
David Sarkies
Oct 07, 2015 David Sarkies rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Historians
Recommended to David by: Saw it in a bookshop
Shelves: history
The business of God ... is business
28 December 2012

It is interesting to chart the rise of the modern state, which in a way began back in the Renaissance and the period in European history known as the Babylonian Captivity (when the Papacy was moved from Rome to Avignion) to the modern day, and to see how all of the events are interconnected with each other. This book, though, probably should have the title of Protestantism and the rise of Capitalism, namely because it was through the Protestant
As I dip into early modernism, these sort of sweeping analyses that work in a great deal of history are just the kind of slog I need. Part economic history and analysis social psychology, Tawney certainly implicates Puritan secularization of politics and economics and valorization of economic individualism in the rise of capitalism. It's not the sole factor: he notes that crucial banking systems were developed in Catholic countries, technologies of navigation allowed for increased supply of $ &a ...more
Richard Thomas
A classic if now perhaps dated evaluation of man's economic drives. it was and still an influential explanation of motivation for the accumulation of wealth and the wish for prosperity; although nowadays simple naked greed seems more convincing with no veneer of any philosophy or religion to justify what drives the already unbelievably wealthy to steal more.
Rob Prince
My old-guys-burnt-out-lefty book club read this one. As usual, being behind, I didn't read it until after we had discussed it. I had read it once before,45 years ago, little of it stayed with me. Not an easy read as it has those 19th century English long sentences, many quotes in Latin sprinkled here and there. A reader needs to be able to concentrate to get through it. That said, this is, in my view, a great book, a genuine `classic' in its field. The sections on Luther and Calvin - and how the ...more
Important stuff - bought it as it was on a school reading list many years ago and glad I finally got round to reading it
Jun 16, 2008 Sarah is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Definitely on the academic side - more so than Popular Delusions - lots of references to and citations of other literature on the subject. A lot of it covers the question, "How did the Catholic Church get so wealthy?" Covers Western Europe mostly ... a significant amount of the book deals with how the Catholic Church (and protestant sects once they're established) deal with the issue of interest ... is it usury and a sin against God or is it okay? Another issue is pricing of goods with the aim o ...more
Doug Garnett
Been years since I read it. But I love this book.

The writing is really fun. We've removed all aspects of poetry from modern writing about history. Tawney doesn't feel those shackles and goes with the words.

Accuracy is not entirely there. But he clearly gets across one concept of the odd ways that puritanism and capitalism were bound together in their early development and how each affected the other.

Regardless, I highly recommend it.
Anatole David
Well written despite being incredibly detailed. A first rate book that anyone could enjoy and learn a great deal from.
Jckosnow Kosnow
Oct 30, 2009 Jckosnow Kosnow rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
this is a very very very good book. covers much the same ground as weber's the protestant ethic. but the rise of cap. is more interested to show how capitalism/protestantism arose in sharp contrast to medieval ethics/economics. lots of cool references. goes way beyond like john locke & st. augstine.
There were parts of heavy slogging onwards, but as always with Tawney patience and effort finds a reward. Very beautiful in its thinking and sentiments, but I'm also an avowed fan of the author and medieval views on usury, so take it as you will.
Grace Larkin
Fascinating take on the religious control of the economy as it moved from feudalism to Renaissance financial theory, and then into a free market.
Alan Hughes
Very heavy going. An important book but not, as I discovered, a holiday read.
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Full name: Richard Henry Tawney.
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“Granted, I should love my neighbor as myself, the questions which, under modern conditions of large-scale organization, remain for solution are, ''Who precisely is my neighbor?'' and ''How exactly am I to make my love for them effective in practice?''... It had insisted that all men were brethren. But it did not occur to it to point out that, as a result of the new economic imperialism, which was begging to develop in the 17th century, the brethren of the English merchant were the Africans whom he kidnapped for slavery in America, or the American Indians from whom he stripped of their lands, or the Indian craftsmen whom he bought muslin's and silks at starvation prices. Religion had not yet learned to console itself for the practical difficulty of applying its moral principles by clasping the comfortable formula that for the transaction of economic life no moral principles exist.” 3 likes
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