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For me as an economist, what the author makes clear and what struck me in particular was how the combination of economic (agricultural, industrial, financial, infrastructural) underdevelopment and social and political problems (health, education, ethnic and reliious) that are still present today in many of these countries, have been part of their history for centuries. This does not mean they are immutable (and becoming an EU Member is the best way to break this deadlock, I am convinced) but it shows how deep a legacy needs to be overcome. So for this insight already for me the book was well worth reading. In combination with M. Glenny who provides a modern history of the period 1800-1990s there is of course some overlap but I can recommend to have them both (Glenny is perhaps more lively written). Stavrianos will stand as the reference work by which others are measured.
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The author's refreshingly clear and jargon-free writing brings to life the entire sweep of human history, and makes issues of vital interest accessible not only to the student of history but also the general reader. Highly recommended.
(The "score" rating is a feature of the page. This reviewer does not willingly "score" books.)
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However I'll add that the collapse of the empire surely must have meant the end of considerable long-distance commerce, and consequently a considerable reduction in prosperity.
(I read this book more that 20 years ago, and have not re-read it more recently.)
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