In this short, highly readable book, Immanuel Wallerstein provides a condensation of the central ideas of The Modern World-System, his monumental study of capitalism as an integrated, historical entity. In developing an anatomy of capitalism over the past five centuries, Wallerstein provides one of the most coherent and succinct introductions to the genesis of a global system of exploitation.
Particular attention is focused on the emergence and development of a unified world market, and the concomitant international division of labor. Wallerstein argues forcefully, against the grain of much current opinion, that capitalism has brought about an actual, not merely relative, immiseration in the countries of the Third World. The economic and social problems of underdeveloped countries will remain unresolved as long as they remain located within a framework of world capitalism.
Historical Capitalism is a welcome and stimulating synthesis of one of the most influential assessments of capitalism as a world-historic mode of production.