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Fischer studies this wealth of data, creating a narrative that encompasses all of Western culture. He describes four waves of price revolutions, each beginning in a period of equilibrium: the High Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and finally the Victorian Age. Each revolution is marked by continuing inflation, a widening gap between rich and poor, increasing instability, and finally a crisis at the crest of the wave that is characterized by demographic contraction, social and political upheaval, and economic collapse.

The most violent of these climaxes was the catastrophic fourteenth century, in which war, famine, and the Black Death devastated the continent--the only time in Europe's history that the population actually declined.

The Great Wave - Paperback - David Hackett Fischer - Oxford University Press

Fischer also brilliantly illuminates how these long economic waves are closely intertwined with social and political events, affecting the very mindset of the people caught in them. The long periods of equilibrium are marked by cultural and intellectual movements--such as the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and the Victorian Age-- based on a belief in order and harmony and in the triumph of progress and reason.

By contrast, the years of price revolution created a melancholy culture of despair. Fischer suggests that we are living now in the last stages of a price revolution that has been building since the turn of the century. The destabilizing price surges and declines and the diminished expectations the United States has suffered in recent years--and the famines and wars of other areas of the globe--are typical of the crest of a price revolution. He does not attempt to predict what will happen, noting that "uncertainty about the future is an inexorable fact of our condition.

This book is essential reading for anyone concerned about the state of the world today. He has won numerous awards for scholarship and teaching. ISBN X. In this ambitious book, David Hackett Fischer argues that shifts in prices provide critical insight into the ups and downs of western civilization. He believes that periods of equilibrium - relatively stable prices - alternate with price revolutions that disrupt the economic, social, and political fabric.

10 Most Important Revolutions in History

Fischer identifies three periods of equilibrium: the Renaissance , the Enlightenment , and the Victorian Era During these years, stable prices allowed for advances in real wages, while concurrent declines in the return on capital reduced economic inequality. Material well-being underwrote social and political stability and created an optimistic zeitgeist that contributed to great flowerings of the arts. The price revolutions of the fourteenth, sixteenth, eighteenth, and twentieth centuries - periods of inflation - were quite different.

Rising prices reduced real wages, drove the poor to the wall and led to increases in crime and other ills like prostitution.

The Great Wave: Price Revolutions & the Rhythm of History

I am sure the book will attract a great deal of comment and will be of interest to both students and non-specialists alike. Michael Collins, History Today. Customers outside the U. Will accept P.

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  6. New book. David Hackett Fischer, one of our most prominent historians, has garnered a reputation for making history come alive - even stories as familiar as Paul Revere's ride, or as complicated as the assimilation of British culture in North America. Now, in The Great Wave, Fischer has done it again, marshaling an astonishing array of historical facts in lucid and compelling prose to outline a history of prices - "the history of change," as Fischer puts it - covering the dazzling sweep of Western history from the medieval glory of Chartres to the modern day.

    Going far beyond the economic data, Fischer writes a powerful history of the people of the Western world: the economic patterns they lived in, and the politics, culture, and society that they created as a result. As he did in Albion's Seed and Paul Revere's Ride, two of the most talked-about history books in recent years, Fischer combines extensive research and meticulous scholarship with wonderfully evocative writing to create a book for scholars and general readers alike.