Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First

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en Limba Engleză Paperback – 02 Feb 2017
'Magnificent ... groundbreaking ... a triumph' Peter Frankopan, author of The Silk Roads
'A masterpiece, a delight to read ... a rare and beautiful thing' Gerard DeGroot, The Times

What we consume has become the defining feature of our lives: our economies live or die by spending, we are treated more as consumers than workers, and even public services are presented to us as products in a supermarket. In this monumental study, acclaimed historian Frank Trentmann unfolds the extraordinary history that has shaped our material world, from late Ming China, Renaissance Italy and the British empire to the present. Astonishingly wide-ranging and richly detailed, Empire of Things explores how we have come to live with so much more, how this changed the course of history, and the global challenges we face as a result.
'I read Empire Of Things with unflagging fascination ... elegant, adventurous and colourful ... gleefully provocative' John Preston, Daily Mail

'Such a pleasure to read ... From Victorian department stores to modernist kitchens, his book revels in the things that most historians tend to overlook' Dominic Sandbrook, Sunday Times
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ISBN-13: 9780141028743
ISBN-10: 0141028742
Pagini: 880
Dimensiuni: 129 x 198 x 38 mm
Greutate: 0.64 kg
Editura: Penguin Books
Colecția Penguin
Locul publicării: London, United Kingdom

Notă biografică

Frank Trentmann is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London, and directed the £5 million Cultures of Consumption research programme. His last book, Free Trade Nation, won the Whitfield Prize for outstanding historical scholarship and achievement from the Royal Historical Society. He was educated at Hamburg University, the LSE and at Harvard, where he received his PhD. In 2014 he was Moore Distinguished Fellow at Caltech.


a monumental work that deserves a wide audience. It is both a highly engaging global history of consumer culture and a masterful synthesis of a vast body of literature ... There are few truly global histories of consumer culture, and no study is as meticulous or comprehensive. ... In sum, Frank Trentmann's Empire of Things is a masterpiece of historical analysis that offers a wealth of insights into material desire, changing social norms, state policies, transnational connectivity, and other themes in the history of consumption. Indeed, Empire of Things is a field-defining work that will surely be the standard by which global histories of consumption are measured.
Utterly fascinating ... What makes Trentmann's book such a pleasure to read is not just the wealth of detail or the staggering international range, but the refreshing absence of moaning or moralising about our supposed addiction to owning more stuff
You can't not learn something new here ... [An] epic tale
A history not merely of consumption (and attitudes toward consumption) but also of the very idea of goods as a thing to be produced and consumed. Every page fascinates
I read Empire Of Things with unflagging fascination ... [Trentmann] is not only an elegant, adventurous and colourful writer, he also manages the tricky balancing act of being eminently sensible and gleefully provocative
Laden with fascinating insights and accounts, the result no doubt of extensive research, this study spans not only six centuries and numerous civilisations, cultures and individuals but also finds time to comment on the beginnings, direction and outcomes of consumerism itself. This is a hugely impressive undertaking and an ambitious narrative
A monumental book on a monumental subject ... Rich and illuminating ... No-one who reads it will think about consumer society in the same way
[Empire of Things] is wider in scope geographically, historically and socially than anything preceding it ... The epilogue to this story of consumption is salutary: history is essential to our understanding of the continuing rise in material consumption far beyond a sustainable level
Jam-packed with telling facts and counterintuitive provocations ... Empire of Things is that rare tour d'horizon that expands your sense of what should count as the subject ... A bracing argument

Textul de pe ultima copertă

What we consume has become a central—perhaps the central—feature of modern life.
Our economies live or die by spending, and we increasingly define ourselves by our possessions. This ever-richer lifestyle has had a profound impact on our planet. How have we come to live with so much stuff, and how has this changed the course of history?
In Empire of Things, Frank Trentmann unfolds the extraordinary story of our modern material world, from Renaissance Italy and late Ming China to today’s global economy. While consumption is often portrayed as a recent American export, this monumental and richly detailed account shows that it is, in fact, a truly international phenomenon with a much longer and more diverse history. Trentmann traces the influence of trade and empire on tastes, as formerly exotic goods like coffee, tobacco, Indian cotton, and Chinese porcelain conquered the world, and explores the growing demand for home furnishings, fashionable clothes, and convenience that transformed private and public life. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries brought department stores, credit cards, and advertising, but also the rise of the ethical shopper, new generational identities, and, eventually, the resurgence of the Asian consumer.
With an eye to the present and future, Trentmann provides a long view on the global challenges of our
relentless pursuit of more—from waste and debt to stress and inequality. A masterpiece of research and storytelling many years in the making, Empire of Things recounts the epic history of the goods that have seduced, enriched, and unsettled our lives over the past six hundred years.
Praise for Empire of Things
Empire of Things is a masterpiece of historical research . . . a delight to read.”—The Times (UK)
Empire of Things is something to behold; a compelling account of consumerism that revels in its staggering breadth and depth. Frank Trentmann has written a necessary and important book about one of the defining characteristics of our times.”—Amanda Foreman, author of Georgiana, winner of the Whitbread Prize, and A World on Fire
“Impeccably scholarly, vividly detailed, and delightfully written, Empire of Things is the indispensable starting point for anyone who wants to understand how, in the last half millennium, every effort to restrain consumers has failed, while revolutions in consumption keep piling up stuff and waste.”—Felipe Fernández-Armesto, author of Millennium and Civilizations

“In this magisterial volume, Frank Trentmann takes us through time and across national borders to provide a comprehensive history of how people the world over have come to live with more and more things. Here is the crucial backstory to every consumer exchange.”—Lizabeth Cohen, author of A Consumers’ Republic

Empire of Things is an extraordinary, Braudelian achievement. It is impossible to imagine that any one person would be able to do a better job than Frank Trentmann.”—John Brewer, author of The Pleasures of the Imagination, winner of the Wolfson History Prize