Kenneth Pomeranz is University Professor of History at the University of Chicago. His books include The Making of a Hinterland and The World That Trade Created.
A landmark comparative history of Europe and China that examines why the Industrial Revolution emerged in the West
The Great Divergence sheds light on one of the great questions of history: Why did sustained industrial growth begin in Northwest Europe? Historian Kenneth Pomeranz shows that as recently as 1750, life expectancy, consumption, and product and factor markets were comparable in Europe and East Asia. Moreover, key regions in China and Japan were no worse off ecologically than those in Western Europe, with each region facing corresponding shortages of land-intensive products. Pomeranz’s comparative lens reveals the two critical factors resulting in Europe's nineteenth-century divergence—the fortunate location of coal and access to trade with the New World. As East Asia’s economy stagnated, Europe narrowly escaped the same fate largely due to favorable resource stocks from underground and overseas. This Princeton Classics edition includes a preface from the author and makes a powerful historical work available to new readers.
"A profoundly thought-provoking book."—Jack Goody, Times Higher Education Supplement
"The biggest and most important contribution to our new understanding of the causes and mechanisms that brought about the great divergence between the West and the rest."—Andre Gunder Frank, Journal of Asian Studies
"So rich that fresh insights emerge from virtually every page."—Robert B. Marks, American Historical Review
"Exhaustively researched and brilliantly argued."—Edward R. Slack Jr., Journal of World History