The kind of history popular today among publishers, journal editors, faculty search committees, and students themselves is very different from what it was only a decade or so ago. No longer is it the story of diplomatic conflicts and international relations. Nor is it the story of the evolution of political systems of rule and the gradual shaping of democratic institutions. Nor is it, even, the history of the cultural and intellectual environment, the background in civil society of these and other changes affecting the lives of many. Rather, it is a form of social history, in which the study of global patterns of production and exchange and the assessment of quantitative changes in the size of populations and their economic behavior is supposed to provide an adequate account of human society.

To replace the grand narratives of the older traditions, adherents of the new have been producing in recent...


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