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Download A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World Audiobook, by William J. Bernstein Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (502 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: William J. Bernstein Narrator: Mel Foster Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: April 2008 ISBN: 9781400176694
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Adam Smith wrote that man has an intrinsic "propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another." But how did trade evolve to the point where we don't think twice about biting into an apple from the other side of the world? In A Splendid Exchange, William J. Bernstein tells the extraordinary story of global commerce from its prehistoric origins to the myriad controversies surrounding it today. He transports readers from ancient sailing ships that brought the silk trade from China to Rome in the second century to the rise and fall of the Portuguese monopoly in spices in the sixteenth; from the rush for sugar that brought the British to Jamaica in 1655 to the American trade battles of the early twentieth century; from key innovations such as steam, steel, and refrigeration to the modern era of televisions from Taiwan, lettuce from Mexico, and T-shirts from China. Along the way, Bernstein examines how our age-old dependency on trade has contributed to our planet's agricultural bounty, stimulated intellectual progress, and made us both prosperous and vulnerable. Although the impulse to trade often takes a backseat to xenophobia and war, Bernstein concludes that trade is ultimately a force for good among nations, and he argues that societies are far more successful and stable when they are involved in vigorous trade with their neighbors. Lively, authoritative, and astonishing in scope, A Splendid Exchange is a riveting narrative that views trade and globalization not in political terms, but rather as an evolutionary process as old as war and religion-a historical constant-that will continue to foster the growth of intellectual capital, shrink the world, and propel the trajectory of the human species. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • Bernstein has given us a master's insights into the past to help us understand an issue of deep divisions in the present age. Sara Bongiorni, author of A Year without "Made in China"
  • “Mr. Bernstein is a fine writer and knows how to tell a great story well…A Splendid Exchange is a splendid book.”

    New York Times

  • “Mel Foster’s delivery is unflagging as the work introduces us to a truly global panoply of civilizations…Foster keeps us listening, whether he’s describing a seventh-century Syrian plague or the first transport of ice to Bombay.”

    AudioFile

  • “Bernstein has given us a master’s insights into the past to help us understand an issue of deep divisions in the present age.”

    Sara Bongiorni, author of A Year without “Made in China”

  • “The book is not just essential reading; it is fun all the way.”

    Peter L. Bernstein, author of Against the Gods

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vickie | 2/17/2014

    " This is an excellent book.It is hard to put it down. Even though it has a lot of information in every page,it is so well written that it makes for easy and pleasant reading "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Kathleen McRae | 2/1/2014

    " This book was a very good read. Mr Bernstein gave a very readable history of global commerce From its origins in prehistory to the behemoth that is trade today.The book is written from an evolutionary viewpoint as opposed to a political viewpoint and tells how trade has shaped our world in a intellectual and industrial way that has left us both prosperous and vulnerable.This book is worth a second read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan Murphy | 1/28/2014

    " - nice mixture of history and the undeniable logic of trade "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Kalpana | 1/25/2014

    " Interesting information, a little dry reading. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marks54 | 1/18/2014

    " This was a general history of the positive role of trade in human society. It is not a specialist view and the author has read considerable amount of material. He does a good job in bringing it together and wisely chooses to tone down his treatment after the 19th century - the high tide of free trade. I found this the most interesting in the discussion of the development of trade in the Indian Ocean in the middle ages and after the West moved in. He doesn't talk enough about politics, yet that is absolutely crucial for the spread of "free trade". If you haven't read a lot of history, this will be a lot to digest - as it is even if you have read a lot of history. I like more specialist accounts, such as Findlay and O'Rourke's Power and Plenty. This was OK, however, and made me appreciate the Findlay book when I read it. I read the Bernstein book while at the beach in New Jersey and it fit well there. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jon | 1/13/2014

    " Fascinating history of trade throughout the centuries. Pretty good defense of free trade, although the author's liberalism (not in the classical sense) gets the best of him in the last chapter and he goes all wishy-washy. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mike | 1/7/2014

    " Nice, readable history of world trade. I was expecting more about the Roman empire - but I guess not much trade occurs when you can just take things :) - "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Void lon iXaarii | 10/15/2013

    " A simply fascinating walk through history with an eye on trade. Occasionally I did feel the author wondered off into less meaningful details BUT the whole is mightier than the parts, and the big picture is so huge and so very very interesting! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linnie Campbell | 9/17/2013

    " I learned how trade developed and spread among ancient civilizations "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mitchell | 8/31/2013

    " ok. a little bit too disconnected for me. Had a hard time caring about all these tiny little stories for the majority of the book. I thought there would be more, I don't know, analysis, and fewer anecdotes. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Timo Nikinmaa | 8/31/2013

    " A splendid book, a must for anyone interested in world economic history. Written with a vision, with a consistent narrative, the book's scope is amazing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David Glad | 8/27/2013

    " Nice book about trade through the ages. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jezier | 7/7/2013

    " A great, insightful read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jonathan | 5/13/2012

    " Wish this were twice as long. Bursting with information clearly put forward. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Theresa | 2/7/2012

    " Excellent. I was very surprised to so enjoy a book about the history of international trade. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 David Wardell | 1/6/2012

    " Interesting discussion of trade as a major motivator for change in world history. As a result, many historical events, such as the American Revolution, take on an unfamiliar form. You may not entirely accept the viewpoint, but the premises are worth considering. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joey | 12/12/2011

    " long, interesting tidbits along the way. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Devin | 11/23/2011

    " The subtitle sumarizes it. Insightfull. Only criticizm is of the final chapter which seems confused. The author seeks to make a point about free trade that does not flow from the earlier chapters or the facts offered in his conclusion. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Joanna | 9/30/2011

    " Part of my reshaping World History and will prove vaulable. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Ben Sweezy | 8/26/2011

    " Hands down my favorite book to lend to people. By focusing on trade routes through history, this manages to tell the story of humanity in the terms that I find most powerful and exciting: the rise and fall of human desires. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vincent Tan | 8/6/2011

    " A colourful and vivid account of the history of trade around the world. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Stephen | 2/13/2011

    " Very entertaining and readable. I learned a lot. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Manish | 1/15/2011

    " Nice analysis of how trade shaped the political maps of the world! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Dan | 12/7/2010

    " - nice mixture of history and the undeniable logic of trade "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Aaron | 8/15/2010

    " Introduced me to the Stolper-Samuelson theorem, which predicts that "protection benefit[s] those who predominantly own[] a relatively scarce factor and harm[s] those who own a relatively abundant one." Also includes one of the best examples of comparative advantage that I have read. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Frank | 7/31/2010

    " Great history of trade, from the ancient Sumerians straight through to the WTO Doha Round. Plenty of interesting tidbits along the way. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jonathan | 7/10/2010

    " Wish this were twice as long. Bursting with information clearly put forward. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mitchell | 7/7/2010

    " ok. a little bit too disconnected for me. Had a hard time caring about all these tiny little stories for the majority of the book. I thought there would be more, I don't know, analysis and fewer anecdotes. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Converse | 6/18/2010

    " History of international trade from prehistory to the early 2000s, very engagingly written and with good maps. Perhaps a bit too quick to assume that the general assumption of economists that free trade is the best policy, but does acknowledge that there are actual losers from open markets.
    "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Vickie | 3/25/2010

    " This is an excellent book.It is hard to put it down. Even though it has a lot of information in every page,it is so well written that it makes for easy and pleasant reading "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 C.R. | 3/4/2010

    " If you have an interest in the history of trade and commerce, it's fascinating - a more detailed version of Niall Ferguson's "Ascent of Money," but more interested in commodities and the flow of goods rather than the flow of money "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Joey | 1/29/2010

    " long, interesting tidbits along the way. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Linnie | 1/26/2010

    " I learned how trade developed and spread among ancient civilizations "

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About the Narrator

Mel Foster is a prolific audiobook narrator, having read dozens of titles throughout his career. He is the recipient of the prestigious Audie Award, as well as the AudioFile Earphones Award. A former advertising agency executive who used to record test tracks for commercials, his narration career was born out of encouragement from his clients who would often say, “why are we hiring someone else? I like this guy.”