Merchant, soldier, sage: a history of the world in three castes

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The Penguin Press,
Pub. Date:
First American edition.
A bold new interpretation of modern history as a continual struggle among three prevailing power groups: merchant, soldier, and sage

Noted Oxford historian David Priestland argues history is, at base, a conflict among three occupational groups, or castes: the commercial, competitive merchant; the aristocratic,militaristic soldier; the sage, or the bureaucratic, expert manipulator of ideas. Since the move of civilization into the city, merchants have vied for power with the soldier and the sage in every society. These groups struggle for power, and when one achieves preeminence, as the soldier did in imperial Germany, or the merchant did in theAnglo-American world of the 1920s, the result is cultural domination.

Yet the predominant group must adapt to changing circumstances or there will come a point of drastic change, as the world saw in 1914 and 1929. The result is economic crisis, war, or revolution, and eventually a new alliance of castes takes over. The last century bears the scars of these often very violent shifts of power between the castes. After dominating the world order for decades, the merchant faced his greatest challenge in the financial crisis of 2008. Slowly, haltingly, the economies of the West seem to have regained their footing. But questions remain. Can we ensure that the merchants at the helm of our economy will not chart the same ruinous course they did in the run up to the crisis? How long will it be until we face another financial crisis?

We cannot gain perspective on our current challenges until we understand their position in a larger historical context. Priestland argues that we are now in the midst of a period with all the classic signs of imminent change. In the wake of the great recession, the merchant is weakened and discredited, but still clings to power. As the history of the last century shows, there is good reason to be fearful of the forces that the likely failure of the merchant may unleash.

Merchant, Soldier, Sage is both a masterful dissection of our current predicament and groundbreaking piece of history. Neither our past nor our present will look the same again.


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Grouping Information

Grouped Work ID 0ce0cd8b-7ed6-993f-3187-0d76d25af357
Grouping Title merchant soldier sage a history of the world in three castes
Grouping Author priestland david
Grouping Category book
Last Grouping Update 2019-02-11 00:36:19AM
Last Indexed 2019-04-26 01:32:15AM

Solr Details

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author Priestland, David.
author_display Priestland, David
available_at_kentdenver Kent Denver Upper School
detailed_location_kentdenver Kent Denver Upper School - Nonfiction
display_description Outlines a reinterpretation of modern history that explores a continuing struggle among three prevailing power groups--the merchant, soldier, and sage--and traces how they have vied for dominance throughout recent centuries.
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last_indexed 2019-04-26T07:32:15.094Z
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literary_form Non Fiction
literary_form_full Non Fiction
local_callnumber_kentdenver 305.09 Pri
owning_library_kentdenver Kent Denver School
owning_location_kentdenver Kent Denver Upper School
primary_isbn 9781594203107
publishDate 2013
record_details ils:193110|Book|Books|First American edition.|English|The Penguin Press,|2013.|343 pages 25 cm
recordtype grouped_work
Bib IdItem IdGrouped StatusStatusLocally OwnedAvailableHoldableBookableIn Library Use OnlyLibrary OwnedHoldable PTypesBookable PTypesLocal Url
ils:193110 454608 On Shelf On Shelf false true true false false true
subject_facet Economic history, Elite (Social sciences) -- History, History, Modern, Power (Social sciences) -- History, Social structure -- Economic aspects -- History, Social values -- History
title_display Merchant, soldier, sage a history of the world in three castes
title_full Merchant, soldier, sage a history of the world in three castes David Priestland
title_short Merchant, soldier, sage
title_sub a history of the world in three castes
topic_facet Economic aspects, Economic history, Elite (Social sciences), History, History, Modern, Power (Social sciences), Social structure, Social values