I am no history buff, know very little history, and next to nothing about economic history (or economics).
I bought this book on an impulse (since the credit crunch I have attempted to gain some knowledge in the area) and read it during my holidays on the beach. And it was a bloody good read at that.
This is not a light weight book, but thanks to the author remains easy to read, to mull over, and to digest. What better for a beach. It gives a historic overview of economic world history. He approaches this by looking from high up above down at "systems" that make up the politco-economic activity and arise and disappear through "cycles". He explains what he thinks make up systems of economic power, chronicles their development through the ages from the middle ages to our times. Thus, the systems that pass this review are the Genoese, Dutch, British, and United States "hegemons". He analyses the rise, zenith, and decline of each era. He looks at the general, recurring features of these cycles, and , finally, attempts a forecast at what the future may have in store for us. In respect of the latter, he wonders whether the recurring pattern of cycles itself may be heading for a change, rather than that a new hegemon (possibly China and the East - though, perhaps due to time lapsed, the writer names Japan rather than China), will arise. He is clear, though, that the US are at the end of their cycle, the decline having started in the 70s.
In his analysis, he relies on a huge amount of literature, indexed, including such as Karl Marx. It is well researched, and the writer clearly has a massive amount of knowledge. But, and this is the beauty for me, you don't get bogged down during the reading (dare I say it - it read like a "page turner"), and afterward are left with a sweeping overarching type of understanding of history.