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Why Did Europe Conquer the World?

Author

Listed:
  • Philip T. Hoffman

    (California Institute of Technology)

Abstract

Between 1492 and 1914, Europeans conquered 84 percent of the globe. But why did Europe rise to the top, when for centuries the Chinese, Japanese, Ottomans, and South Asians were far more advanced? Why didn’t these powers establish global dominance? In Why Did Europe Conquer the World?, distinguished economic historian Philip Hoffman demonstrates that conventional explanations—such as geography, epidemic disease, and the Industrial Revolution—fail to provide answers. Arguing instead for the pivotal role of economic and political history, Hoffman shows that if variables had been at all different, Europe would not have achieved critical military innovations, and another power could have become master of the world. In vivid detail, Hoffman sheds light on the two millennia of economic, political, and historical changes that set European states on a distinctive path of development and military rivalry. Compared to their counterparts in China, Japan, South Asia, and the Middle East, European leaders—whether chiefs, lords, kings, emperors, or prime ministers—had radically different incentives, which drove them to make war. These incentives, which Hoffman explores using an economic model of political costs and financial resources, resulted in astonishingly rapid growth in Europe’s military sector from the Middle Ages on, and produced an insurmountable lead in gunpowder technology. The consequences determined which states established colonial empires or ran the slave trade, and even which economies were the first to industrialize. Debunking traditional arguments, Why Did Europe Conquer the World? reveals the startling reasons behind Europe’s historic global supremacy.

Suggested Citation

  • Philip T. Hoffman, 2015. "Why Did Europe Conquer the World?," Economics Books, Princeton University Press, edition 1, number 10452, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:pup:pbooks:10452
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    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Tribalism, Terranism, and Technology: The Pitfalls and Promises of Globalization
      by Jason Barr in Building the skyline on 2018-10-19 12:14:07

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Johan Schot & Laur Kanger, 2016. "Deep Transitions: Emergence, Acceleration, Stabilization and Directionality," SPRU Working Paper Series 2016-15, SPRU - Science Policy Research Unit, University of Sussex Business School.
    2. Broadberry, Stephen & Wallis, John, 2017. "Growing, Shrinking and Long Run Economic Performance: Historical Perspectives on Economic Development," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 323, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    3. repec:eee:exehis:v:64:y:2017:i:c:p:1-20 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Igor Fedyukin, 2016. ""Westernizations” from Peter I to Meiji: War, Political Competition, and Reform," HSE Working papers WP BRP 122/HUM/2016, National Research University Higher School of Economics.
    5. Jared Rubin & Debin Ma, 2017. "The Paradox of Power: Understanding Fiscal Capacity in Imperial China and Absolutist Regimes," Working Papers 17-02, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    6. Dziubinski, M. & Goyal, S. & Minarsch, D. E. N., 2017. "The Strategy of Conquest," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1704, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    7. Murat Iyigun & Jared Rubin & Avner Seror, 2018. "A Theory of Conservative Revivals," Working Papers 18-14, Chapman University, Economic Science Institute.
    8. Thilo R. Huning & Fabian Wahl, 2016. "You Reap What You Know: Observability of Soil Quality, and Political Fragmentation," Working Papers 0101, European Historical Economics Society (EHES).
    9. repec:eee:jeborg:v:155:y:2018:i:c:p:178-204 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. Belmonte, Alessandro & Di Lillo, Armando, 2018. "From Italianization to Germanization : Division of Labor, Economic Rents, and Anti-German Attitudes in South Tyrol," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 379, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
    11. Koyama, Mark & Moriguchi, Chiaki & Sng, Tuan-Hwee, 2018. "Geopolitics and Asia’s little divergence: State building in China and Japan after 1850," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 155(C), pages 178-204.
    12. Dincecco, Mark & Wang, Yuhua, 2018. "Internal Conflict, Elite Action, and State Failure: Evidence from China, 1000-1911," MPRA Paper 87777, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    economics; history; politics; anthropology; military; europe;

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