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A People's History of the World

Since 1400

Author Jeff Horn

Publication Date - 12 November 2022

ISBN: 9780190646097

400 pages

Focuses on an understanding of the global past and its impact on the present through the way "the people" lived and acted.


World history textbooks generally focus on politics, culture, and ideas. A People's History of the World takes a fundamentally different approach to understanding the nature of change over time on a global scale. Although politics, the history of ideas, and culture receive considerable attention, the ideas and cultural practices that animated the masses are given pride of place. This methodology reveals underlying continuities that are often masked when the frame is history from the top down. For today's students who often feel isolated from elites and frustrated by the difficulties of enacting change, a different approach can be both illuminating and empowering. From the ground up, global history looks quite different.


  • Provides a uniquely flexible account of global history that encourages both teachers and students to reconsider and ask new questions about the nature and cause of change.
  • Focuses on an understanding of the global past and its impact on the present through the way "the people" lived and acted.
  • Employs three temporal approaches to structure the analysis and to reveal patterns, conjunctures, and critical moments or tipping points.
  • Chapters on religious practice, community, slavery, agriculture, trade, and taxation span the entire six-hundred-year period. Paired chapters on imperialism, industrialization, and decolonization divide the era in two to highlight continuities and changes while five chapters focusing on politics examine shorter blocks of time.
  • The "Be A Historian" feature introduces certain types of primary sources and illustrates the difficulties of interpreting them. Considering how to weigh historical evidence, especially contradictory evidence is one of historians' most important skills. Since world history is frequently the only college history course a student takes, even brief exposure to what historians do and how they do it can help attract students to the discipline, while simultaneously encouraging an appreciation of both the art and the craft of the practice of history.
  • The "Debate" feature facilitates student understanding of complex material and helps them to improve skills. Introduced through a short framing section, each debate is linked to both the primary sources and the chapter narrative.
  • Adopters of the text can download Oxford Learning Link Direct into their LMS, integrating tests, PowerPoints, and other resources directly into their course.
  • Maps and images are integrated thoroughly into the narrative and represent an essential part of the story.
  • Whenever possible, the text uses the words of individuals who experienced or witnessed the event or issue under discussion. This approach applies to the quotes and short excerpts found in the text as well as to the companion sourcebook of primary sources, Voices of a People's History of the World.
  • Offers an enhanced e-book that includes all of the primary sources from Voices of a People's History of the World, quizzes, discussion questions videos, and notetaking guides.
  • Adopters of the text can download Oxford Learning Link Direct into their LMS, integrating tests, PowerPoints, and other resources directly into their course.

About the Author(s)

Jeff Horn is Professor of History at Manhattan College.

Table of Contents

    List of Maps
    List of Figures and Tables
    List of Features
    About the Author
    An Introduction to
    A People's History of the World

    Chapter 1. Isolation, Regionalism, and Exploration: The World in 1400
    Connecting Regions: By Sea
    Connecting Regions: By Land
    Ecological Migration
    Conclusion: A People's History?
    Be An Historian: How Do We Know What We Know? Using Primary Sources

    Chapter 2. Religious Practice in the Modern World
    The Basis of Religious Authority
    Comparative Theology: Patterns and Praxis
    Ritual and the Making of Meaning
    Conversion and Attitudes Toward Other Faiths
    Conclusion: Skepticism, Belief, and the Protection of Religious Belief
    Be An Historian: Religious Art
    Debate: Conversion: Individual or Collective Decision?

    Chapter 3. Imperialism and the Evolution of Empire, 1500-1800
    Conquest, Conversion, and Cooptation: Old Tactics in a New Era
    Imperial Models
    The Columbian Exchange
    Conclusion: Coincidence, Accidents and Structures -The Timing of Imperial Expansion
    Be An Historian: Differing Accounts of the Same Event

    Chapter 4. The Emergence and Spread of Gunpowder Empires: Political Change, 1500-1650
    China and Japan Turn Inward
    Islamic Conquest and Consolidation in South Asia
    The Fragmentation of Africa Polities
    Religious Warfare in Europe
    Adaptation, Avoidance, and Recovery in the Western Hemisphere
    Conclusion: Gunpowder Politics and the Military Revolution
    Be An Historian: The Architecture of the Great Wall of China-The Secret Ingredient is the Sticky Rice
    Debate: Religious Motivations for Political Action

    Chapter 5. Life in Common: Community in the Modern World
    Village Life and the Division of Labor
    Marriage and Domestic Life
    Parenthood and Childrearing
    Conclusion: Living Together in the Twenty-First Century
    Be An Historian: The Meaning of a Marriage Contract
    Debate: The Double Standard

    Chapter 6. The Exchange of Goods and Services: Trade
    Necessities and Luxuries
    State Policies
    Freeing Trade
    Growing Volumes: Local, Regional, Global
    Conclusion: Trade, the Engine of Growth and Globalization, and Its Discontents
    Debate: Adam Smith: Theorist or Historian?

    Chapter 7. Humans as Property: Slavery
    The Experience of Slavery: Masters and Slaves
    Europeans, Americans, and the Practice of Slavery
    Getting Them There: Slave Trades
    Liberation and Its Limitations
    Conclusion: IT IS NOT ENOUGH
    Debate: Did Europe Underdevelop Africa?

    Chapter 8. Jockeying for Position: Political Change, 1650-1775
    Retrenchment in the Islamic World
    Adapting to a Wider World in Africa and the Americas
    Centralization and the Impact of Colonization in Asia
    Dynastic Struggle and Internal Development in Europe
    Conclusion: Putting Early-Modern Politics in Perspective
    Be An Historian: Treaties can be Tricky
    Debate: What is the Basis of International Relations in a Monarchial System?

    Chapter 9. Manufacturing a New World Economy, 1750-1914
    Capital: Human and Financial
    Technological Pathways and Worlds of Production
    Exploitation and Profit-Taking
    The Role of the State
    Power Relations and Deindustrialization
    Conclusion: Manufacturing Power and Popular Resistance
    Debate: Was the Exploitation of Labor Necessary to a European Industrial Revolution?

    Chapter 10. From Scarcity to Surplus: Modern Agriculture
    Systems, Traditions, and Innovation
    Technique, Technology, the Emergence of Industrial Agriculture, and Beyond
    Labor and Land Tenure
    Entrepreneurship and State Action
    Conclusion: The New Constraints
    Be An Historian: Evaluating Competing Claims
    Debate: Benefits and Consequences of the Green Revolution

    Chapter 11. Creation and Collapse: Revolutions and Political Change, 1775-1860
    Reform, Revolution, and Reaction in Europe
    Liberty and Equality in the Americas
    New Patterns of Power Arise in Africa
    Isolation and Integration in Asia
    Conclusion: The Benefits to the People of the Age of Revolution: Short-term vs. Long-term
    Be An Historian: Constitutional Rhetoric vs. Political Reality
    Debate: Did the Enlightenment Cause the Age of Revolutions?

    Chapter 12. "Haves" and "Have Not's": Power Relations and Imperialism, 1800-Present
    Technologies of Power
    Resistance Along the Nile
    Scramble for Africa
    Subjects, Citizens, Colonists, Colonized
    Conclusion: Imperialism in the Twentieth Century
    Debate: Are Imperialists Poor Historians?

    Chapter 13. New Forms of Control: Decolonization and Economic Dominance, 1775-1914
    New Ideologies and their Limitations: Revolutions as Decolonization
    Slavery's Declining Impact
    A New Political Economy of Empire
    Decolonization and Nationalism: The Slow Disintegration of the Ottoman Empire
    Conclusion: Decolonization in an Age of Imperialism
    Debate: Is Decolonization a Revolution?

    Chapter 14. Privation and Powerlessness in an Age of Plenty: Political Change, 1860-1945
    Africa and Asia Under European Domination
    Economic Integration and Political Isolation in the Americas: Myths and Realities of the American Dream
    Europe: From the Heights to the Depths
    The Human Cost of Total Wars
    Conclusion: Learning from Your Mistakes
    Be An Historian: Is Seeing Believing?
    Debate: Why was Socialism so Popular?

    Chapter 15. "Machines as the Measure of Men"?: The Changing Basis of Industrial Power, 1914-Present
    The Apogee of the Second Industrial Revolution (1914-45)
    The New Model: Soviet-Style Industrialization
    Corporate Management of Production: Capital and Labor after 1945
    Manufacturing and the Information Economy
    Conclusion: Industry 4.0?
    Be An Historian: News is a First Rough-Draft of History

    Chapter 16. Paying for it All: Taxation and the Making of the Modern World
    The Growing Power of the State to Extract Revenue
    Beyond the Central State: Supporting Communities and Institutions
    The Political Economy of the Evolution of the Tax Burden
    Conclusion: The Legacy of Tax Cuts-Debt and Inequality
    Be An Historian: Cadastres and the Making of the Modern State
    Debate: Do High Taxes Prevent Rapid Economic Growth?

    Chapter 17. The Age of the Superpowers: Political Change, 1945-2001
    The Politics of Rivalry: The Superpowers and Europe
    Consequences of the End of a Bipolar World
    Nationalism, Socialism, and Capitalism in Asia
    Searching for Stability in the Global South: Latin America, Africa, and
    Constraints on the Voices of the People
    International Institutions and Missed Opportunities
    Conclusion: Missed Opportunities
    Be An Historian: Music Mattered
    Debate: Why Was 1968 Not a Year of Revolution?

    Chapter 18. Left in the Lurch: Decolonization, 1914-Present
    International Agreements and the End of Empire
    A Double-Edged Sword: Communism and Decolonization
    The Political Economy of Twentieth-Century Decolonization
    New Nationalisms and the Search for Modernity
    Colonization: Decolonization and Experiments in Nation-Building
    Be An Historian: Authorship Matters! : Biography vs. Autobiography

    Chapter 19. Anxieties and Opportunities in the Twenty-First Century
    Powerlessness and the Perpetuation of Inequality
    The Environment in Crisis
    Disease and Globalization's Challenge to Public Health
    Protest in the Arab World
    Populism, Nationalism, and the Drift Toward Authoritarianism
    Conclusion: Inequality in the Twenty-First Century
    Debate: Thinking About the Future

    Further Reading

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