A History of Capitalism, 1500 - 2000, by Michael Beaud
(5th edition, 1999)

Michel Beaud is a retired professor of economics at the University of Paris VIII at Vincennes.

Michel Beaud told a historian colleague, Jean Bouvier, that a book by Henri Sée appeared both out of date and inadequate. He said he thought a history of capitalism was needed, believing that Bouvier alone was capable of "successfully carrying out the project." Bouvier replied that a historian could "never risk such a project.' Beaud writes that he began the project "not worried about the scientific authority-figures of my discipline, nor the reactions of my colleagues, nor my own abilities. I recognize and admit the temerity which possessed me back then; now, twenty and more years later, I am no longer sure I would attempt it again."

I gather from reading his introduction that he approached his subject intending to remain unbound by ideology. And I'm thankful that he had the temerity to write it, leaving us to take from it what we find of value. Academics are to be appreciated when they present their ideas more as a working hypotheses rather than the final word.

In his introduction he writes: "I was taught that capitalism is an economic system. I understood quickly enough that one could not reduce it to the economic dimension alone, and that it is necessary to take into account the social, ideological, political, and ethical dimensions as well."

One reviewer at Amazon.com (there are four as of now) recommends The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer View, by Ellen Meiksins Wood. She is a Marxist scholar, and the book is a work in political science rather than history. She has a doctorate in political science from UCLA.

The book is divided into two parts and seven chapters:

Part One, From Gold to Capital

1) The Long Journey Toward Capitalism

2) The Century of Three Revolutions (18th century)

3) The Irresistible Rise of Industrial Capitalism

Part Two, The Era of Imperialism

4) From the Great Depression to the Great War (1873-1914)

5) The Great Upheaval (1914-45)

6) Capitalism's Great Leap Forward (1945-80)

7) The End of the Twentieth Century