The big economic story of our times is not the Great Recession. It is how China and India began to embrace neoliberal ideas of economics and attributed a sense of dignity and liberty to the bourgeoisie they had denied for so long. The result was an explosion in economic growth and proof that economic change depends less on foreign trade, investment, or material causes, and a whole lot more on ideas and what people believe. Or so says Deirdre N. McCloskey in "Bourgeois Dignity", a fiercely contrarian history that wages a similar argument about economics in the West. Here she turns her attention to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Europe to reconsider the birth of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of capitalism. According to McCloskey, our modern world was not the product of new markets, but rather the result of shifting opinions about them. An utterly fascinating sequel to her critically acclaimed book "The Bourgeois Virtues", "Bourgeois Dignity" is a feast of intellectual riches from one of our most spirited and ambitious historians.
Deirdre N. McCloskey is Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Among her many books are The Bourgeois Virtues: Ethics for an Age of Commerce; Crossing: A Memoir; The Secret Sins of Economics; and If You're So Smart: The Narrative of Economic Expertise, all published by the University of Chicago Press.