In Empire of Things, Frank Trentmann unfolds the extraordinary story of our modern material world, from Renaissance Italy and late Ming China to today’s global economy. While consumption is often portrayed as a recent American export, this monumental and richly detailed account shows that it is in fact a truly international phenomenon with a much longer and more diverse history. Trentmann traces the influence of trade and empire on tastes, as formerly exotic goods like coffee, tobacco, Indian cotton and Chinese porcelain conquered the world, and explores the growing demand for home furnishings, fashionable clothes and convenience that transformed private and public life. The nineteenth and twentieth centuries brought department stores, credit cards and advertising, but also the rise of the ethical shopper, new generational identities and, eventually, the resurgence of the Asian consumer.
With an eye to the present and future, Frank Trentmann provides a long view on the global challenges of our relentless pursuit of more—from waste and debt to stress and inequality. A masterpiece of research and storytelling many years in the making, Empire of Things recounts the epic history of the goods that have seduced, enriched and unsettled our lives over the past six hundred years.
Frank Trentmann is a professor of history at Birkbeck College, University of London, and directed the £5 million Cultures of Consumption research program. His last book, Free Trade Nation, won the Royal Historical Society’s Whitfield Prize. He was educated at Hamburg University, the London School of Economics and Political Science, and Harvard University. He has been the Fernand Braudel Senior Fellow at the European University Institute in Florence, as well as a visiting professor at Bielefeld University, the University of St. Gallen, the British Academy, and the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris. In 2014 he was awarded the Moore Distinguished Fellowship at the California Institute of Technology.
• Genghis Khan, who united East and West by conquest and by opening new trade routes built on groundbreaking transportation, communications, and management innovations.
• Mayer Amschel Rothschild, who arose from an oppressive Jewish ghetto to establish the most powerful bank the world has seen and who ushered in an era of global finance.
• Cyrus Field, who became the father of global communications by leading the effort to build the transatlantic telegraph, the forerunner to global radio, television, and the worldwide Internet.
• Margaret Thatcher, whose controversial policies opened the gusher of substantially free markets that linked economies across borders.
• Andy Grove, a Hungarian refugee from the Nazis who built the company—Intel—that figured out how to manufacture complex computer chips on a mass, commercial scale and laid the foundation for Silicon Valley’s computer revolution.
From Silk to Silicon is an essential book to understanding the past—and the future—of the most powerful global forces of our times.
How people buy things has changed profoundly—yet the fundamental thinking about consumer decision-making and marketing has not. Most marketers still believe that they can shape consumers’ perception and drive their behavior. In this provocative book, Stanford professor Itamar Simonson and bestselling author Emanuel Rosen show why current mantras are losing their relevance. When consumers base their decisions on reviews from other users, easily accessed expert opinions, price comparison apps, and other emerging technologies, everything changes.
Absolute Value answers the pressing questions of how to influence customers in this new age. Simonson and Rosen point out the old-school marketing concepts that need to change and explain how a company should design its communication strategy, market research program, and segmentation strategy in the new environment. Filled with deep analysis, case studies, and cutting-edge research, this forward-looking book provides a totally new way of thinking about marketing.