[UCP Books]: Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World

Deirdre McCloskey’s ambition?

Nothing less than explaining the modern world.


Her tools?


Bourgeois Equality

How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions, Enriched the World
Deirdre N. McCloskey


Publication date: May 3, 2016 978-0-226-33399-1
International publication date: May 17, 2016 $45.00/£31.50


We’re in an odd economic moment. Politicians on all sides are shouting about the decline of the middle class. Financial crises and diminished expectations have led a number of economists and political figures—not even that far out of the mainstream—to argue that what we’re seeing is a fundamental crisis of capitalism.

Nonsense, says Deirdre McCloskey. We are living amid the greatest boom in the history of humanity, part of the wealthiest, healthiest, most secure society ever. And with Bourgeois Equality, she shows us how we got here—how we transformed the nasty, brutish, and short reality of the pre-modern world into what she calls the Great Enrichment.

What brought us here? It wasn’t, as Thomas Piketty would argue, the accumulation of capital. It was the rise of the much-derided bourgeoisie, the inventors and manufacturers and shop owners who, once they were freed up to pursue their self-interest and make commercial bets on their ideas, supercharged the economy of northern Europe in the early modern era—and transformed the world.

McCloskey writes like no other economist. Scratch that: she thinks like no other economist. In witty, insightful, unforgettable prose, she draws on economic history and theory, philosophy and literature, painting and drama, to build a complete picture of human life and achievement. The result is stunning, a book about economics that will appeal to readers well beyond the field, and forever alter their ideas about how the world works, and why.


Deirdre N. McCloskey is Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English, and Communication at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Among her many books are The Bourgeois Virtues and Bourgeois Dignity.

For more information contact Levi Stahl: lstahl@press.uchicago.edu / (773) 702-0289


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