Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Paul Cheney's "Revolutionary Commerce"

Paul Cheney is Assistant Professor of History, University of Chicago.

He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his new book, Revolutionary Commerce: Globalization and the French Monarchy, and reported the following:
Page 99 of Revolutionary Commerce deals with the economic and historical thought of the Chevalier d’Arcq, a downwardly mobile literary hack who found himself—like many other members of France’s military aristocracy—on the wrong side of history as Europe became more commercial, meritocratic and bourgeois. For the majority of writers prior to the French Revolution, economics was a discipline more akin to comparative political theory or sociology, and so here we find d’Arcq puzzling over the question of how France (and more importantly, members of the French elite like himself…) could find a place in an international order increasingly dominated by trade. This question was all the more pressing for the French because it seemed to many that their ancient monarchy was ill-adapted to economic competition with commercial republics such as Holland and England. As I discuss in the closing chapters of Revolutionary Commerce, the French never really found a successful formula for politically adapting to the challenges of globalization, which helps to explain the form that the Revolution took when it came in 1789.
Read an excerpt from Revolutionary Commerce, and learn more about the book at the Harvard University Press website.

--Marshal Zeringue