Empire of Things: How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First

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Penguin Books Limited, Jan 28, 2016 - History - 912 pages

The epic history of consumption, and the goods that have transformed our lives over the past 600 years

What we consume has become the defining feature of our lives: our economies live or die by spending, we are treated more as consumers than workers, and even public services are presented to us as products in a supermarket. In this monumental study, acclaimed historian Frank Trentmann unfolds the extraordinary history that has shaped our material world, from late Ming China, Renaissance Italy and the British Empire to the present. Astonishingly wide-ranging and richly detailed, Empire of Things explores how we have come to live with so much more, how this changed the course of history, and the global challenges we face as a result.

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About the author (2016)

Frank Trentmann is Professor of History at Birkbeck, University of London, and at the University of Helsinki. He is the author of Empire of Things and Free Trade Nation, was a Moore Scholar at Caltech and has been awarded the Whitfield Prize, the Austrian Science Book Prize, the Humboldt Prize for Research and the 2023 Bochum Historians' Prize. He grew up in Hamburg and lives in London.

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