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World Economic History before the Industrial Revolution, Spring 2009

By Gregory Clark

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This course details the nature and development of economies from pre-history to the Industrial Revolution. It explains how this was dramatically different from modern economies. Finally it considers what caused the Industrial Revolution, why it was in Europe, and why it was delayed till 1800.

Customer Reviews

Interesting beyond belief

Words cannot express how interesting this course is.
Even if you've read _A Farewell to Alms_, Clark does an incredible job of expressing the essence of each of his arguments, along with providing both new information that he's learned since the book was written, and details on how each piece of historical data was calculated.

This would be good enough, but Clark is an engaging lecturer, is organized and keeps to a schedule, and unlike too many lecturers, wastes no class time talking about administrative details. Every lecture starts with a theme and spends the 50 minutes discussing that theme carefully.

As one final bonus, Clark appears to be marvelously non-dogmatic. At every stage in every argument, he tells us not just how the cliometrics were established, but what the problems with the data might be. He's perfectly willing to mention and discuss pieces of evidence contrary to his thesis as they're encountered. He really does come across as someone looking at a particular historical puzzle, who is interested purely in "what is the answer, how do we explain this?", NOT in "who gets credit for the answer" or "how can I use this history to shore up my particular political/nationalist/theological agenda".

I have only one complaint which is --- please, oh please, UC Davis and Gregory Clark, give a few other classes on various other parts of economics and history, and podcast them all !!!

Fascinating course with minor technical issues

This is a fascinating course, based upon the instructor's book "An End to Alms." The course was given after the book was published, so the instructor addressed items brought up by readers. I'm not sure I agree with his conclusions about the possible causes of the Industrial Revolution, but he lays out an interesting case.

So, what's wrong with the course? First, a few items in the course were taught in recitation sessions which weren't taped. Nothing essential, but still a bit annoying. Second, the instructor seems way too amused by his own witticisms. Finally, and most annoyingly, the videos aren't playable on my iPod Classic. However, there are free programs that will convert them to a format that is viewable. Once the videos were converted, I easily imported them into my iTunes library.

But all of that still leaves the course at four stars.

Malthusian Freakanomics

Finding a free university class on Malthusian economics is awesome and hilarious. One cannot even find a sincere class on Marxist economics, and Malthus is even more out of vogue.

World history filtered through Malthusianism is bizarre. The class could have been titled IN PRAISE OF THE PLAGUE - because the prof has a morbid sense of humor and seems to be having too much fun descibing the economic public good of cannibalistic social norms. Is this guy a smart arzze? At very least he is an eccentric with a weird sense of humor.

I enjoy far out ideas, so the class was super fun and super entertaining... Even if the central premise seemed over reductive, over simplistic, over confident, over determanistic. Or whatever. It's thought provoking and you cant beat the trivia and freaky facts he throws into his lectures. Bravo! Good show!

World Economic History before the Industrial Revolution, Spring 2009
View in iTunes
  • Free
  • Category: Business
  • Language: English

Customer Ratings