David S. Landes
author list

  • Baechler
  • Blamont
  • Braudel
  • Chelli
  • Cosandey
  • Diamond
  • Frank
  • HallÚ
  • Huff
  • Hume
  • Jones
  • Kennedy
  • Landes
  • Lang
  • LÚvi-Strauss
  • McNeill
  • Mokyr
  • Montesquieu
  • Needham
  • Sardar
  • Weber
  • Wesson
  • Wittfogel
    Landes mainly advocated the cultural hypothesis in The Wealth and Poverty of Nations (1999).

    Landes Lifeline
    David S. Landes received an A.B. from the City College of New York in 1942 and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1953. He held various appointments in the fields of history, political science, and economics. In 1964, he became professor of history in Harvard. David Landes is now retired; he is emeritus professor of economics at Harvard University (Coolidge Professor of History and Professor of Economics).

    David S. Landes should not be confounded with David C. Lindberg. The latter is an historian of medieval science, author of Engineering in the Ancient World.

    Works related to the European miracle:
    (1) 1969: The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 570pp.
    (2) 1983: Revolution in Time – Clocks and the Making of the Modern World, W.W. Norton, New York, USA.
    (3) 1999: The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor, W.W. Norton, New York, USA.

    Landes' personal and bibliographical presence on the web is quite scarce. I found only his empty Harvard homepage, still under construction (Dec 00), and a short notice by Harvard.
    Landes' books and thought, however, are pervasive on the web. Here, I reproduced a brilliant review of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, by Joel Mokyr.

    My personal and subjective view of Landes' contribution to the Grand Question
    Very poor. A few stodgy stereotypes: tropical heat making people lazy, a more dynamic European "culture", with whatever is meant by this word. Worse, Landes betrays his reader by promising to come up with an explanation for the Western mystery. He complacently describes and describes again the course of history, and seldom offers explanations about the dynamics. Furthermore, whenever he tries, he constantly contradicts himself, without noticing, thus further confusing the reader. He alternately and in full disorder propounds cultural, climatic, external and randomness argumentations.

    This is all the more a pity since his wide scholarship ought to allow him a better insight than many other thinkers. My personal hypothese for this failure is that Landes lacks a synthetic mind. This is already clear in Clocks and the Making of the Modern World, a textbook filled with a lively and richly documented history of the clocks, but painfully contradictory and incomplete as soon as he tries to summarize or to explain large-scale trends: lots of details, no synthese, countradictory statements, already in 1983.
    Some selected comments about Wealth and Poverty.

    Scholarship: 4/5   Theory: 1/5