These fourteen essays covering a wide range of subjects of great current interest reflect the continuous evolution of the author’s thought from 1951 to 1961. Range and flexibility characterize Alexander Gerschenkron’s dynamic approach to Europe’s industrial history. Connecting evolution in individual countries with their degree of economic backwardness, he presents the industrialization of the continent as a “case of unity in diversity,” thus offering a cogent alternative, supported by case studies, to the traditional view of industrialization as monotonous repetition of the same process from country to country. Brought together for the first time, these essays were originally published in specialized periodicals in the United States and abroad.
Explaining and systematizing the elements of creative innovation in industrial history, Gerschenkron opens new paths of research and poses a number of pertinent questions for the problem of economic development in backward countries. His versatile analysis not only includes construction of ingenious industrial output indices and fruitful historical hypotheses on the index-number problem, but also original insights gleaned from a study of Soviet novels and a brilliant critique of Doctor Zhivago.