Cover: Revolutionary Commerce: Globalization and the French Monarchy, from Harvard University PressCover: Revolutionary Commerce in HARDCOVER

Harvard Historical Studies 168

Revolutionary Commerce

Globalization and the French Monarchy

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Product Details


$64.00 • £51.95 • €57.50

ISBN 9780674047266

Publication Date: 03/16/2010


320 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

2 line illustrations, 2 graphs

Harvard Historical Studies


The very intelligent, novel, and meaningful achievement of this book is to show how and why France’s eighteenth-century colonies—in the Caribbean mostly—mattered critically to the French reading and writing public’s understanding of their country’s economic and political place in the world.—Patrice Higonnet, The Times Literary Supplement

A fascinating, thoroughly researched, and beautifully written intellectual history depicting the emergence of the novel eighteenth-century ‘science of commerce.’ A major asset of the work is that while Montesquieu serves as its central figure, the reader learns about so much more, including the relationship between commerce and statecraft, the prevalence of social-scientific comparisons between absolutism and republicanism in the century before the American and French revolutions, and the birth of philosophical history. Cheney shows great skill in elucidating the sometimes dense works of eighteenth-century economists in language that is at once remarkably spare and vivid. Lucid, lively, and informative, this book was truly a pleasure to read.—Mary D. Lewis, author of The Boundaries of the Republic

This engaging book powerfully conveys the dual sense of opportunity and risk felt by the thinkers, politicians, and merchants who experienced the eighteenth century’s global revolution in commerce. With sensitive and precise attention to the language and concerns of the writers he treats, Cheney makes an excellent case for rejecting conventional narratives such as the transition from a mercantilist to a laissez-faire phase of French economic thought. This is a signal contribution to the emerging literature about the place of colonies and global commerce in French revolutionary politics.—Jennifer Pitts, author of A Turn to Empire

In this ambitious and timely book, Cheney argues that the pressures of globalization strained French political institutions and social structures, issuing in the revolutionary transformations of the 1790s. By focusing on the economic thought of the old regime, which was preoccupied with the challenges of international competition, he shows how globalization became central to political debate. Revolutionary Commerce makes a major contribution to the intellectual history of the old regime and to debates on the origins of the French Revolution.—John Shovlin, author of The Political Economy of Virtue

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