Erik Graff's Reviews > Reformation to Industrial Revolution

Reformation to Industrial Revolution by Christopher Hill
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's review
May 28, 13

bookshelves: history
Recommended to Erik by: Walter Wallace
Recommended for: English history fans
Read in June, 2012, read count: 1

I believe I first heard about Christopher Hill, the British economic historian, from older friends in high school. That in the back of my mind, when I saw this volume at the Elgin, Illinois Public Library, I snapped it up.

The book is excellently arranged, excellently written, but somewhat difficult for a colonial like myself. Written for the educated British public, it assumes knowledge common, presumably, to the college graduate of that country, but not necessarily known to the graduate of an American school. I don't think in pounds and pence, don't measure in metres, know little of common law traditions. Still, this was my failing, not Hill's.

This is primarily an economic history, but intellectual history is not ignored. Indeed, Hill is a post-Frankfurt Marxist, the world of economics being treated as in a dialectical relationship with the world of ideas.

The story told is that of competing elites, the landed aristocracy of the sixteenth century being suplanted by the commercial of the seventeenth and the industrial of the later eighteenth--all, sadly, at the expense of the lower classes. Seeing the exploitation so vividly portrayed herein helps, by reflection, illuminate similar mechanisms at work today.

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