William Bernstein – The Birth of Plenty: How the Prosperity of the Modern World was Created
Last year I read Bernstein’s history of trade, A Splendid Exchange, and enjoyed it immensely. This book has a broader focus—the rise of modern global prosperity. Bernstein is an excellent popular writer, and should be read more widely. He doesn’t go into the same depth as other scholars on the subject such as Julian Simon, Deirdre McCloskey, Joel Mokyr, Stephen Davies, Nathan Rosenberg, Henri Pirenne, and others. But his genial delivery and general ethos of openness and dynamism coupled with a coherent historical narrative make for an excellent read.
Bernstein’s background is in finance, and books from that genre are usually charitably described as snake oil. Rare exceptions include non-sensationalist buy-and-hold advocates such as Burton Malkiel of A Random Walk Down Wall Street fame. While I’ve not read Bernstein’s financial advice books and likely never will, he is an excellent historian. I hope he writes more in that vein.