This book examines why certain countries have achieved, at some period in their history, economic superiority over all other countries. The author is particularly interested not only in the factors that lead to this primacy, but also the factors that cause the primacy to end. The study begins in 1350 with Italian city-states, and continues through Portugal, Spain, the Low Countries, Great Britain, and the United States. Additional chapters treat France as a perennial challenger, Germany which twice waged war to attain primacy, and Japan.

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