Why Europe Was First

Economic growth and social change in Europe and East Asia, 1500-2050


London: Routledge, 2005.
For most of its history Europe was a thoroughly average part of the world: poor, uncouth, technologically and culturally backward. By contrast, China was always far richer, more sophisticated and advanced. Yet it was Europe that first became modern, and by the nineteenth century China was struggling to catch up. This book explains why. Why did Europe succeed and why was China left behind? The answer, as we will see, does not only solve a long-standing historical puzzle, it also provides an explanation of the contemporary success of East Asia, and it shows what is wrong with current theories of development and modernization.

The book is published twice, under different titles. For the paperback, published by Athem Press, I came up with the idea of calling it Why Europe Was First. The idea was that it would sound less boring and academic (to go with the man on the dragon roller-coaster). Yet it's the same book as Mechanics of Modernity, published by Routledge. Take your pick.
"It is brilliant: beautifully argued and written, and (mostly) correct."

Deirdre McCloskey, University of Illinois, author of Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce.
"Ringmar provides the most concise and powerful explanation that I have read, and in enjoyable and skillfully-wrought prose. This is an intellectual feast."

Jack A. Goldstone, George Mason University, author of Why Europe? The Role of the West in World History 1500-1850.
"A thought-provoking and well-written book that provides a unique and idiosyncratic contribution to world history."

John M. Hobson, University of Sheffield, author of The Eastern Origins of Western Civilization.