A Splendid Exchange

This sample essay on A Splendid Exchange provides important aspects of the issue and arguments for and against as well as the needed facts. Read on this essay’s introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusion.

Dennis BerkA. P. World Dr. Andrews Summer Assignment The accelerating pace of international trade is one of the most dominating, and important features, of contemporary life. Globalization is creating widespread changes for societies, economics, and governments. Since the invention of the steam engine, transportation and communication limits have faded away and, with the development of the Internet, practically disappeared.

A case can be made for the proposition that trade, throughout history, has been the main engine for the development of the world as we know it today.

In his book, A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World, William J. Bernstein makes this case. The main thesis of A Splendid Exchange by William J. Bernstein is to describe how, where, and why trade goes on in certain parts of the world, and how it affects completely different regions on Earth.

Bernstein does this by using facts, details, and accounts of other economists and writers. A Splendid Exchange is not just about the trading of silk, tea, or coffee. It also speaks about the movement of diseases throughout the world.

For example, when Christopher Columbus sailed the Nina, Pinta, and Santa Maria into the New World, disease quickly spread throughout the Americas, such as small pox. Obviously at the time the diseases made life miserable for many of the people living in the Americas, killing loved ones, friends, and family making it much more difficult for everyone to live.

Get quality help now
Dr. Karlyna PhD

Proficient in: Bias

4.7 (235)

“ Amazing writer! I am really satisfied with her work. An excellent price as well. ”

+84 relevant experts are online
Hire writer

However, because the disease was spread, many people that now live in the Americas are immune to these diseases, including small pox. This is a classic example of the idea of natural selection, stating that only the fittest survive.

The Splendid Exchange

Bernstein writes about this again in his novel while talking about the plague that rampaged through the streets of cities in Europe during the Dark Ages. This plague killed off an enormous amount of the European population, but eventually Europeans grew immune to the disease and now many cities in Europe are prospering. A Splendid Exchange has greatly changed my view of history. It has shown me how important trade was and how difficult it used to be compared to now. Today, many people have cell phones and even more people have access to a elevision, radio, or the Internet, so, for example, if an event occurs in South Korea in less than an hour news stations all over the world are reporting about it and have analysts debate about it for hours. However, back in the 1000’s and 1100’s, if you were living in France, and an event occurs in China, there is a good chance that the person living in France would never know about it. Also, in the 1000’s or 1100’s if you were born in a village in England, unless you were a merchant, chances are that you would not go further than 50 miles in any direction from where you were born.

Transportation in the 1000’s and 1100’s was limited to walking and sea travel. Sea travel was very dangerous, due to pirates and poorly made ships, so many Europeans didn’t risk it. Today, with the invention of the steam engine, automobile, and airplane to go from New York to California by plane takes only six hours, although you are traveling around 3000 feet. In today’s world it’s no big deal if you travel 3000 feet in one day, but in the 1000’s and 1100’s this was such a radical thought that no one had ever even wasted their time trying to think about it. William J.

Bernstein asks many questions in his novel. One of them is how goods got from China to Rome. Bernstein answers this question by saying the trade was very slow, and the process went in stages. Bernstein describes how Chinese merchants sailed their ships down to Indochina and how the goods were exchanged by six different nations before reaching Rome. Obviously, this is a very long process, and the trade was only sped up by the invention of better ships, and eventually the airplane. Another question asked in A Splendid Exchange is what drove early man to trade?

This question is answered by Bernstein stating that political stability was most important for man to want to trade, and he says that the technological innovations of land and sea transport are secondary. With political stability, nations are able to expand and then there is a sudden increase in demand for more goods, which can only be completed by trade. In A Splendid Exchange, the thing I was most surprised to learn about was the great impact that the Peloponnesian War had on trade. Greece’s city-states didn’t have the best soil to plant on before the Peloponnesian War, and certainly not after it.

Because of all the battle that took place, much of Greece’s fertile land was destroyed. Because Greece now had less arable land, and less people to farm this land because of all the deaths during the Peloponnesian War, the city-states of Greece had to rely heavily on trade. Another thing I was surprised to learn about was how a country 1000s of miles away from another country can be the reason that country continues to live on. As an example, the Greeks could not grow wheat. Clearly, without wheat a country simply cannot prosper, as it is put into so many foods necessary for the body to properly function.

In order for the Greeks to continue living, they would need to trade for wheat. As many countries of the Mediterranean did, Greece got its wheat from Egypt. Had the Egyptians not traded their wheat to Greece, it is very possible that Greece would have been conquered by another nation. It’s amazing how trade that went on centuries ago has affected the world as we know it today. In Bernstein’s novel, the thing I was most disappointed to learn about was Zaccaria opening the Strait of Gibraltar to plague ships. These plague ships eventually spread the black death.

Had Zaccaria not opened the Strait of Gibraltar, the Black Death could’ve came in more methodically, allowing Europeans more time to prepare for it, as opposed to the Black Death being thrown onto the Europeans, thus giving them less time to prepare for it and try to stop the plague or evacuate from the cities. Because the housing in the cities of Europe during the Dark Ages were so tightly packed together, once one person got a disease it would spread almost instantaneously, and had there been more warning for the plague, actions could’ve been taken so that less people would have died.

I enjoyed A Splendid Exchange by William J. Bernstein very much. The book has given me invaluable knowledge about the ancient world and how the ancient world has affected the modern world. Bernstein does a great job explaining how trade affects the entire world, and he backs it up with facts and quotes from economists and historians. Bernstein also shows how trade developed, starting with the trading of ancient Sumer all the way up to modern day trade and what this all means. I thought the novel was worthwhile, and so did many others because it won the Financial Times and Economist Best Book of the Year award.

If I were having a discussion with a friend about A Splendid Exchange by William J. Bernstein, I would tell them that it completely changed my view of history. Bernstein’s novel has taught me many new things and has shown me how important trade is in today’s world. A Splendid Exchange really makes you think of how important events that occurred over 1000 years ago are today. The novel also describes how trade developed from not only adjacent countries trading, but how countries from different sides of the planet were able to trade.

I absolutely would recommend this book to my friend because it teaches you so many things about world history and how important trade is. In Bernstein’s novel, he showed some preconceived biases. One of these biases is that Bernstein seems to favor protectionism and tariffs rather than free trade. In the chapter, The Triumph and Tragedy of Free Trade, Bernstein seems to speak more about the tragedies of free trade rather than the triumphs of it. This shows that Bernstein has a bias towards free trade and prefers tariffs and protectionism.

In A Splendid Exchange: How Trade Shaped the World, by William J. Bernstein, he shows how and why certain things are today because of trade. Bernstein proves how trade from thousands of years ago has had an impact on today’s world. William J. Bernstein has shown that trade on one side of Earth affects the other side in many different ways. Bernstein also shows how natural selection played a big role in trading thousands of years ago. A Splendid Exchange has changed my view of history and my view on the importance of trade.

Cite this page

A Splendid Exchange. (2019, Dec 06). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/paper-on-a-splendid-exchange/

A Splendid Exchange
Let’s chat?  We're online 24/7