Summer reading: Ambitious length edition
A selection of books of abnormal length for beach readers who want a sense of accomplishment.
The Structures of Everyday Life: The Limits of the Possible (Civilization and Capitalism : 15th-18th Century)
Volume 1 of Braudel's groundbreaking trilogy, detailing the transformations in daily life accompanying the long birth of the capitalist world system.
Volume 2 of Braudel's mega-trilogy, tracing the first threads knitting together the modern global financial system.
Having laid the foundations in Volumes 1 & 2, Braudel concludes his trilogy with an account of the way political and economic power function in the longue durée.
The Modern World-System I: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World-Economy in the Sixteenth Century, With a New Prologue
Once you finish Braudel, it's time for Wallerstein's own trilogy + one, starting with the first volume's explication of the changing function of agricultural in the very early days of the capitalist world-system.
The Modern World-System II: Mercantilism and the Consolidation of the European World-Economy, 1600-1750, With a New Prologue
Volume two of Wallerstein's trilogy picks up where the first left off, tracing the way international trade and state actors developed and consolidated power on a world scale.
The Modern World-System III: The Second Era of Great Expansion of the Capitalist World-Economy, 1730s-1840s, With a New Prologue
Only in the third volume does Wallerstein get to the industrial revolution, where most histories of capitalism, focused on production rather than systemic configurations of state and financial power, begin.
A surprise fourth volume, published far more recently, switches gears and explores the genesis of liberal ideology as the defining mode of thought of globalized power.
Robert Caro's classic muckraking biography of Robert Moses, tracing the brutally racist and monumentally power-hungry city planner's rise and fall.
Lewis Mumford's treatise on the city—a wild, opinionated, and fascinating ride through a few thousand years of urban development.
DuBois' magnum opus recasts the story of the Civil War and its aftermath as black revolution and white reaction. If you don't understand reconstruction the way Du Bois (and later Eric Foner) did, you really don't have a chance of understanding America today.