A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World, by William J. Bernstein

William J. Bernstein holds a PhD in chemistry and an MD, and he has practiced neurology. Some reading his book complain that it does not appear to be the work of a professional historian.

The book skips a lot. Bernstein begins with ancient Sumer (Chapter One). In Chapter Three he is writing about the sixth century Arabs as raiders (desert pirates) and as middlemen in the sixth century. In Chapter Thirteen he is writing about the 1930s, and from there he jumps to his last chapter, titled the "Battle of Seattle," which took place in January 1999.

One customer reviewer at Amazon.com writes that the book can be enjoyed as a collection of anecdotes and is somewhat informative but that "on the whole it cannot be accepted as an authoritative history of trade." At Amazon there is the usual criticism that it is left-of-center. One reviewer writes of contradictions of facts in addition to mistakes, and he adds that Bernstein's list of references is impressively long but that the references are often irrelevant.

In my opinion, despite the book's merits, its lack of continuity makes hardly a macrohistory.