A Brief History of Now

The Past and Present of Global Power

Authors: Olstein, Diego

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  • Presents a roadmap for exploring key issues impacting the world today
  • Covers challenges including technological innovation, economic globalization and climate change
  • Identifies and evaluate generalised trends and patterns throughout history
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eBook 24,60 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-030-82420-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover 31,19 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-030-82419-8
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  • Shipping restrictions
  • Usually ready to be dispatched within 3 to 5 business days, if in stock
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About this book

Exploring the rise and fall of global power from the mid-nineteenth century, this book tracks the long and interrelated trajectories of the most serious challenges facing the world today. Although at first the urgency of the coronavirus outbreak in 2020 seemed to take precedence over other global problems such as socioeconomic inequality and climate change, it has ultimately exacerbated these issues and created opportunities to address them boldly and innovatively. A Brief History of Now provides a bird’s-eye view of world hegemony, economic globalization and political regimes as they have evolved and developed over the last two hundred years, providing context and insights into the forces which have shaped the Western world. Presented in an accessible and engaging narrative, the book addresses key contemporary challenges and explores the repercussions of a technological revolution, the potential instability of democracy over the coming years, and the urgent struggle to tackle climate change. With his book, Diego Olstein helps to answer pressing questions about our world today and provides a roadmap for analysing future trajectories.

About the authors

Diego Olstein is Professor and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. He has published widely on medieval Spain, world history and historiography and taught or lectured on these subjects in North and Latin America, Europe, Israel, India, China, Korea, Japan, Singapore and Australia. Diego’s previous book, Thinking History Globally (Palgrave, 2015), defines, explains and exemplifies twelve transboundary branches of history, and his current interests revolve around globalization and hegemony in world history.

Reviews


“This fast-paced book identifies five large themes to guide our thinking about 200 years of human history: world hegemony, economic globalization, political regimes, socioeconomic inequality and technological breakthroughs. Only a master juggler like Diego Olstein can keep these five balls in the air simultaneously, and he does so by dexterously recognizing large patterns, examining their interactions and embedding his analysis in a dynamic account of systemic historical change. In taking us to remote times and to the far-flung corners of the world, this capacious historical sociology helps us come to terms with how we got to where we are—and to find ways to productively think about our future. If you want to understand why history is essential to mastering the present—and the future—read this book.”

Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of History, Harvard University, USA, and author of Empire of Cotton

 

“Instead of the repeated wolf-cries of minatory futurologists, Diego Olstein gives us a forward-looking history of globalization: evidence from the past with which to contemplate a post-American century, poised between unpromising "global regimes," and threatened by what the author calls "demotarianism." The narrative lines are sweeping, the analysis bold, the writing intimate, and the message challenging. Diego Olstein is the sort of historian – increasingly rare nowadays – who can recapture the attention of a wider public.”

Felipe Fernández Armesto, William P. Reynolds Professor of History, University of Notre Dame, USA, and author of The World: A History

 

“We are living in a time of mounting political instabilities, environmental disasters, economic uncertainties and other deep crises, so this book comes exactly at the right moment. Written with deep concern for our current world and its future contours, it offers fascinating global historical perspectives of various important problems including the rise and fall of hegemonic powers, the trajectories of international trade, or the underpinnings of democracy. Diego Olstein’s masterpiece is based on deep historical reflections, daring global interpretations, and a profound knowledge of various academic fields. Written in an engaging, lucid style, this work is not only relevant to academic experts but also of great interest to a general audience. In fact, it is a must-read for anyone concerned about our current global condition and the historical forces shaping it.”

Dominic Sachsenmaier, Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany, and author of Global Perspectives on Global History


“Diego Olstein’s A Brief History of Now encapsulates a comprehensive timeline of historical phenomena within a space without borders, by situating Now against the backdrop of the pandemic. The author interweaves and converges the synergy of global economies, hegemonies or the lack of it, democracy in chaos, and technology that impacts climate change; It is basically about the ‘power of now’ that teases out newer and crucial questions in global history.”

Meeta Deka, Professor and Former Head, Department of History, Gauhati University, India, and author of Women's Agency and Social Change: Assam and Beyond

 

“This is a really challenging history of the rise and oscillation of globalization in modern world history, with a persuasive chronology and imaginative take on causation. One of the many assets is a reinterpretation of the early 20th century in ways that go beyond conventional narratives. The book’s final segment places current developments in context both of the larger periodization and of analogies with the past, in ways that will stimulate productive if anxious debate.”

Peter N. Stearns, George Mason University, USA, and author of The Industrial Revolution in World History

 

“Olstein’s A Brief History of Now is an invaluable and timely book that provides a sweeping reinterpretation of our present in an accessible narrative for a broad audience and historians alike. While the proliferation of fragmented accounts on the human recent past have reminded us of our cultural diversity, Olstein’s book offers us a possible framework to put all the pieces together in a vivid explanation on the origins of the world around us. The book displays the evolution of ideas on society originated in the North Atlantic and the conditions and agencies that forge their permanency and transformation as essential parts of the historical process.”

Alexandre Moreli, Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, and editor of Rethinking Power in Global and Transnational History

 

“Given the multitude of events that make up the past 150 years, and the avalanche of books that historians have produced to explain them, it’s easy to miss the forest for the trees. But not here: in this witty, sometimes idiosyncratic, fast-paced account, the contours of the major changes of the pre-history of the present become very visible. Diego Olstein draws clear lines into the confusing sand of developments that will help orient students and sometimes surprise experts: a stimulating guide to the history of our globalized age!”

Sebastian Conrad, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany, and author of What is Global History?


“This book clearly illuminates the ‘hegemonic-globalization paradox’ and change of world hegemony from the Pax Britannica to the Pax Americana, not only in political-economy but also in popular culture and sports. It also covers the impacts of the current ICT Revolution and environmental issues for our daily life. The author gives us a stimulating ‘road map’ for identifying NOW from a longer historical perspective, and presents a fascinating dialogue between the Past, the Present and the Future.”

Shigeru Akita, Professor of Global History, Department of World History, Graduate School of Letters, Osaka University, Japan, and editor of American Empire in Global History

 

“Olstein’s narrative is witty, compelling, and thought-provoking. It is global history at its best and appeals to readers interested in history, IR, and current affairs. It is a must-read for all of us who seek to make sense of an ever more complex world. This is a provocative, innovative, and rich history with profound theoretical implications.”

 Marc Frey, Universität der Bundeswehr München, Germany, and editor of International Organizations and Development 1945-1990

 

“The present meets its last 170 years of history in this innovative and timely global history by Olstein. Succinctly untangled into recurrent patterns and clearly visualized in waves, A Brief History of Now provides sophisticated yet easily comprehensible frameworks to discern the past and its connections to the seemingly unconnected developments of today. This is likely to become an essential text in the classrooms, enriching courses on global history and history of globalization, as well as adding value for anyone interested in understanding the historical roots and developments that brought us to the global now.”

Taejin Hwang, Kyungpook National University, South Korea, and author of ‘Cold War Brotherhood Contested’

 

“In a tour de force of macrohistory and historical sociology, A Brief History of Now offers an inspiring new account of post-1850 global history. Combining the big picture with careful attention to specific historical trajectories and the numerous feedback loops between them, the book suggests a new chronology of modernity and a novel conceptual toolbox. This book helps to make sense of our present world - a world beyond neoliberalism.”

Jürgen Osterhammel, Professor Emeritus, Universität Konstanz, Germany, and author of The Transformation of the World: A Global History of the Nineteenth Century

 

“Diego Olstein’s insightful study draws out the most important threads in the long-term economic, political, and technological processes that have made our world what it is today, and then weaves these together in a clearly written analysis.  A Brief History of Now explores both patterns and bobbles in the fabric of world history from the Industrial Revolution to the COVID pandemic, with a truly global scope that takes readers from soccer stadiums in Argentina to the streets of Cairo during the Arab Spring.”

Merry Wisner-Hanks, Distinguished Professor Emerita, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA, and Editor-in-Chief, Cambridge History of the World

 

Table of contents (8 chapters)

Table of contents (8 chapters)
  • Introduction: Setting the Frame

    Pages 1-23

    Olstein, Diego

  • We Were All Brits (1851–1914)

    Pages 25-77

    Olstein, Diego

  • Until the “Big Brexit” (1914–1945)

    Pages 79-117

    Olstein, Diego

  • When We Became Americans (1946–1973)

    Pages 119-156

    Olstein, Diego

  • Or Else (1946–1973)

    Pages 157-212

    Olstein, Diego

Buy this book

eBook 24,60 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-030-82420-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover 31,19 €
price for Spain (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-030-82419-8
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Institutional customers should get in touch with their account manager
  • Shipping restrictions
  • Usually ready to be dispatched within 3 to 5 business days, if in stock
  • The final prices may differ from the prices shown due to specifics of VAT rules
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
A Brief History of Now
Book Subtitle
The Past and Present of Global Power
Authors
Copyright
2021
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG
eBook ISBN
978-3-030-82420-4
DOI
10.1007/978-3-030-82420-4
Softcover ISBN
978-3-030-82419-8
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XXI, 364
Number of Illustrations
13 b/w illustrations, 23 illustrations in colour
Topics