We're so pleased to be wishing a Happy Publication Day to Frank Trentmann, whose history of consumerism, Empire of Things is published today in hardback, ebook and audio.
What we consume has become the defining feature of our lives: our economies live or die by spending, we are treated more as consumers than workers, and even public services are presented to us as products in a supermarket. In this monumental study, acclaimed historian Frank Trentmann unfolds the extraordinary history that has shaped our material world, from late Ming China, Renaissance Italy and the British empire to the present. Astonishingly wide-ranging and richly detailed, Empire of Things explores how we have come to live with so much more, how this changed the course of history, and the global challenges we face as a result.
You don't need to take our word for it when we say it's a brilliant read, chock-full with historical research.
"Trentmann has written a suitably gigantic book for a gigantic subject but the mass of detail he provides never overwhelms. This is a book that can be dipped into and enjoyed at leisure. The first half, in which he describes how the consumer culture took off, is especially fascinating. You can't not learn something new here." ~ Marcus Tanner, The Independent
"I have never encountered a work that so perfectly assesses the influence of shopping on the human experience. Empire of Things is a masterpiece of historical research but also a delight to read. Economic history is usually as dry as an overcooked turkey, yet this book consistently entertains while it informs. In contrast to many historians, Trentmann has the ability to write for the multitude without compromising on intellectual rigour." ~ Gerard DeGroot, The Times
"Frank Trentmann, professor of history at Birkbeck College, is not only an elegant, adventurous and colourful writer, he also manages the tricky balancing act of being eminently sensible and gleefully provocative. All too aptly, he has produced a thing to covet." ~ John Preston, The Daily Mail