Book Review: Globalization: A Short History

'Globalization' has recently become a popular buzzword for explaining and describing today's world, especially amongst people who don't actually know what it means. The expression achieved a fashionable terminological stardom in the early 1990s and was soon embraced by the general public and integrated into numerous languages.

ISBN: 0691133956
Price: £12.00
Publication Date: 2009

However, can we actually define this much-discussed phenomenon? And is it really an invention of modern times? In this work, J├╝rgen Osterhammel and Niels Petersson make the case that globalization is not so new, after all. Arguing that the world did not turn "global" overnight, the book traces the emergence of globalization over the past seven or eight centuries -much farther than I was expecting. In fact, the authors argue, the phenomenon can be traced back to early modern large-scale trading, for example, the silk trade between China and the Mediterranean region, the shipping routes between the Arabian Peninsula and India, and the more frequently travelled caravan routes of the Near East and North Africa -all conduits for people, goods, coins, artwork, and ideas.
Osterhammel and Petersson argue that the period from 1750 to 1880 -an era characterized by the development of free trade and the long-distance impact of the industrial revolution, represented an important phase in the globalization phenomenon. Moreover, they demonstrate how globalization in the mid-twentieth century opened up the prospect of global destruction though nuclear war and ecological catastrophe. In the end, the authors write, today's globalization is part of a long-running transformation and has not ushered in a 'global age' radically different from anything that came before.
This book will appeal to historians, economists, and anyone in the social sciences who is interested in the historical emergence of globalization. You may have to read it through a few times, however, before you actually 'get it', like a good observational comedian it invariably jumps back to continue something it was talking about half an hour ago. But I would recommend this book as being the best available short introduction to the historiography of this emerging and fashionable historical field.

This book is definitely a History and the Sock Merchant designated academic 'Noodle Scratcher' and would not well accompany the relaxing causality of Hob-Nobs.