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The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism
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The Relentless Revolution: A History of Capitalism

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  254 Ratings  ·  32 Reviews
With its deep roots and global scope, the capitalist system provides the framework for our lives. It is a framework of constant change, sometimes measured and predictable, sometimes drastic and out of control. Yet what is now ubiquitous was not always so. Capitalism took shape centuries ago, starting with a handful of isolated changes in farming, trade, and manufacturing, ...more
Hardcover, 512 pages
Published January 4th 2010 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published December 22nd 2009)
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Aug 22, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an ambitious undertaking that charts the development and growth of capitalism around the world. The book begins by outlining three schools of thought on capitalism that are separately influenced by the writings of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and Max Weber. Appleby states that while most economists adhere to the philosophy of Adam Smith, she finds Weber to be the most compelling. Examining the interplay between culture and economics, she counters Smith’s argument that people are hard-wired for ...more
Tom Mackay
Dec 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Relentless suffices as a general introduction to the topic and makes some important points - primarily that capitalism rests upon cultural factors rather than natural or material laws. It also tries to take a balanced approach, noting the myriad problems associated with 'the market', in addition to detailing what Appleby believes to be its benefits. Appleby does advocate restraint through regulation, and, by arguing that capitalism is fluid and malleable, seeks to highlight that it can be shaped ...more
John Moyle
Jan 14, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Taken for what it is, this is a book worth reading. What it is is a survey of the rise of capitalism from its beginnings in the 17th century to its current position as the dominant economic system in the global economy of the 21st century. This book is intended for the general reader. It is not a rigorous historical analysis, nor is it an economics text. For someone interested in getting a better understanding of what capitalism is, how it developed over the past 300 years or so, and why it has ...more
Jul 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Not being an economist I knew this book would be a challenge for me but I felt compelled to read it because on one level I wanted to know how Americans, specifically, have come to culturally accept capitalism as the best option. On a more personal level I wanted to find a way to reconcile my opinion that smoking in bars should be legal with supporting social services with taxes. Libertarian Socialist?
But more importantly, I wanted to understand how we determine what services or needs are best me
Mar 30, 2010 rated it liked it
Appleby argues that capitalism is not the same as a society with some market-based production and distribution. Capitalism in her view is more than an economic system, and requires legal and ideological support for a system of privatized, non-centralized investment in production and distribution. Because traditional societies placed a strong emphasis on stability, markets had been tightly regulated prior to 17th century Britain. The English civil war distrupted this system of control, allowing f ...more
Caffection Mariah  Byron
Jan 28, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: byron-read
Appleby has written a compelling, thoroughly engaging explication of capitalism in America, why it was not an inevitability, what factors converged to bring it to the fore, and those dynamic and often ruthless individuals who drove it forward. With a few typos and factual errors here and there (there were no B-29s in the European theatre), but overall wholly readable and succinct, Appleby's book presents a strong case, and a generally optimistic view of where American capitalism is headed.
Apr 25, 2010 rated it it was ok
I have never read a history book with so many exclamation points. Even if the content were accurate, the explosive punctuation makes me uneasy with the professionalism of the author.

Otherwise it was highly informative.
There seems to be a consensus on '3 stars' reviews on that one, and I can see why - it does the job, namely condensing in 400 pages the history of capitalism from the 16th century to the 21st. For a philistine of my ilk, it stands out for being written by someone who -on the whole- finds capitalism quite agreeable (in its regulated forms), as opposed to either the root of all evil, or the inescapable law of nature. She is, she tells us, a weberian, claiming said system is a cultural form first a ...more
Oct 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Started out strong, sagged toward the middle, picked up steam in the very last chapters. Covering several hundred years of economic history at a college-survey-course pace, Appleby is often enlightening and entertaining, but I would have preferred a more streamlined sociological tract that focused on her most important point: that capitalism is a specific mindset that emerged out of historical events and not some kind of natural default behavior of human beings.
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was ok
While several insightful observations were made especially early, I was largely disappointed with Appleby's work. She takes on too large of a task for a 400 page book: the history of capatalism from 15th century to present times. But then to make matters worse, she often strays into unrelated digressions. On several issues of key import she skims the surface in a largely superficial analysis. For example, she digresses into the causes of World War I, making no attempt to relate it to capitalism. ...more
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A scholar of American history, Joyce Oldham Appleby received her B.A. degree from Stanford University in 1950 and her Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate School in 1966. She taught at San Diego State University from 1967 until 1981, when she became a professor of history at University of California, Los Angeles. She was elected a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1993, and was presi ...more
More about Joyce Appleby...
“إن ثروة العالم الغربي أنشأت نوعًا من شبكة الأمان ضد المجاعة العالمية ، لكن لا تزال هناك مجتمعات تتشابه تقاليدها الراسخة مع التقاليد التي سادت أوروبا ما قبل العصر الحديث . ومن خلال تعاملنا مع العالم الإسلامي نلاحظ الآن أيضًا هيمنة الأفكار المتعلقة بالشرف ، والفصل بين دوري الرجل والمرأة ، وأهمية عذرية الأنثى ، وطمس رغبات الفرد في إرادة الجماعة التي يعيش داخلها . لقد عززت الهجمات الإرهابية في الآونة الأخيرة الأمل لدى العديد من مواطني الغرب بأن تنمية الاقتصاد قد تستوعب هؤلاء الشباب الذين الندرة الحادة .” 1 likes
“بطبيعة الحال ، لم تتخذ الرأسمالية منذ بدايتها هذا الشكل المحدد ؛ ففي بادئ الأمر لم تكن الرأسمالية نظامًا أو مصطلحًا أو مفهومًا ، بل كانت عدة أساليب متفرِّقة لأداء الأمور أداءً مختلفًا ، وأثبتت هذه الأمر بإحداث ثغرة في سَدٍّ لم يكن من الممكن سدها ثانية بعد أن سمحت بانطلاق فيض هادر من الطاقة الحبيسة . لكن إحداث هذه الثغرة تطلب حب استطلاع وتوفيق وتصميم وشجاعة للتصرف بما يتعارض مع العرف ، والصمود أمام الضغط القوي للخضوع .” 1 likes
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