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Natural Experiments of History
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Table of Contents

* Prologue: Natural Experiments of History Jared Diamond and James A. Robinson * Controlled Comparison and Polynesian Cultural Evolution Patrick V. Kirch * Exploding Wests: Boom and Bust in Nineteenth-Century Settler Societies James Belich * Politics, Banking, and Economic Development: Evidence from New World Economies Stephen Haber * Intra-Island and Inter-Island Comparisons Jared Diamond * Shackled to the Past: The Causes and Consequences of Africa's Slave Trades Nathan Nunn * Colonial Land Tenure, Electoral Competition, and Public Goods in India Abhijit Banerjee and Lakshmi Iyer * From Ancien Regime to Capitalism: The Spread of the French Revolution as a Natural Experiment Daron Acemoglu, Davide Cantoni, Simon Johnson, and James A. Robinson * Afterword: Using Comparative Methods in Studies of Human History Jared Diamond and James A. Robinson * Contributors

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A superb collection of eminently teachable essays bound together by a common methodological framework that connects it directly to cutting-edge theoretical and empirical research across the disciplines of anthropology, archeology, history, political science, and sociology. -- John Coatsworth, Columbia University Natural Experiments of History reaches across a wide variety of disciplines, in ways that should be accessible to just about every educated reader. It is tied together not by topic or region but by the idea that we can make useful and insightful comparisons in ways that are not casual or sloppy, but actually contribute to our understanding of human life. -- Jeffry Frieden, Harvard University

About the Author

Jared Diamond is Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles. His books include Guns, Germs, and Steel. James A. Robinson is Professor of Government, Harvard University.

Reviews

Natural Experiments of History is a short book packed with huge ideas. Its collected essays advocate how controlled experiments can be applied to the messy realities of human history, politics, culture, economics and the environment. It demonstrates productive interdisciplinary collaborations but also reveals gulfs between different cultures of academia...All of the essays in Natural Experiments of History will trigger debate. -- Jon Christensen Nature 20100325 This ambitious, at times challenging, book aspires to contribute new ways of historical thinking and historical research by drawing attention, on the one hand, to the similarities between science (including social sciences) and history, and on the other, by using social sciences methods, especially statistical analysis, to study history. The editors argue that though the difference between studies of nature and human history is obvious, there are clear overlaps. They can be viewed through studying comparative history or by conducting "natural experiments of history" and analyzing the "perturbations" and their causes (exogenous or endogenous) in the involved cases. The book offers a broad array of case studies to illustrate and explain the argument, ranging from nonliterate to contemporary societies and from the U.S., Canada, and Mexico to Brazil, India, and tropical Africa. The comparative methods showcased are quite versatile, from two-way to multiple-way comparisons. All the case studies are interesting and help demonstrate how, via comparative study, one society's, region's, or country's situation is better displayed and explained by juxtaposing it with other, similar ones. A useful read in macro, global history. -- Q. E. Wang Choice 20101101 Natural Experiments of History is a thought-provoking collection of essays that covers an impressive array of topics and would make an excellent text for a course on comparative studies of human history." -- Thomas E. Currie Cliodynamics

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