The Anxious Triumph
A Global History of Capitalism, 1860-1914
The acclaimed magnum opus of one of Britain's most wide-ranging historians
Capitalist enterprise has existed in some form since ancient times, but the globalization and dominance of capitalism as a system began in the 1860s, when states all over the world developed their modern political frameworks: the unifications of Italy and Germany, the establishment of a republic in France, the elimination of slavery in the American south, the Meiji Restoration in Japan, the emancipation of the serfs in Tsarist Russia. This book magnificently explores how, after the upheavals of industrialisation, a truly global capitalism followed. For the first time in the history of humanity, a social system was able to provide a high level of consumption for the majority. Today, capitalism dominates the world.
With wide-ranging scholarship, Donald Sassoon analyses the impact of capitalism on the histories of many different states, and how it creates winners and losers by constantly innovating. This chronic instability produces the anxious triumph of his title. To alleviate such anxieties it was necessary to create a national community, to develop a welfare state, to intervene in the market economy, and to protect it from foreign competition. Capitalists needed a state to discipline them, to nurture them, and to sacrifice a few to save the rest: a state overseeing the war of all against all.
Vigorous, argumentative, surprising and constantly stimulating, The Anxious Triumph gives a fresh perspective on all these questions and on its era. It is a masterpiece by one of Britain's most engaging and wide-ranging historians.