The Birth of Plenty

Now Available from McGraw-Hill in Both Hardcover and Paperback

It's out! The first printing of The Birth of Plenty, an inquiry into the origins of modern prosperity, has reached the bookshelves. It is also available at a reasonable discount from, among other online booksellers throughout the world.

McGraw-Hill has kindly permitted us to reproduce the Table of Contents (shown below), excerpts from the Preface and Introduction, and Chapter One in its entirety. For those who missed it, the September announcement of the new book describes how this volume came to be written and also contains a synopsis of the main thesis.

From the First Reviews of The Birth of Plenty:

“The Birth of Plenty is a rare achievement of scholarship, insight, compassion and useful instruction. Every investor should read it for a view of what risks mean for returns. The non-investor can read it for its humanism and culture. Dr. Bernstein emerges as the Michelangelo of the art of economic history.” – Andrew Allentuck, Globe and Mail [Toronto]

“William Bernstein seeks the wellsprings of industrial civilization and its accomplishments….Very good reading, one interesting story after another, told by a lively and energetic mind.” – David Warsh,

“….a vital, living text—a cogent, timely journey through the economic history of the modern world. …Solid writing and poignant assessments of the economic players throughout time give texture and flavor to Bernstein’s argument…. Packed with information and ideas, Bernstein’s book is an authoritative economic history, accessible and thoroughly entertaining.” – Publishers Weekly

“William J. Bernstein's encyclopaedic The Birth of Plenty offers some convincing answers….a worthwhile and thought-provoking read.” – Peter Foster, National Post [Toronto]

“This fresh look at the economic and political pathways to prosperity is a historical tour de force” – Albany (Oregon) Democrat Herald

“His observation and his wit make this economic history a compelling and entertaining read.” – John J. Oslund, Minneapolis Star Tribune

“A fascinating new book on economic history” – Ross Gittins, Sydney Morning Herald

“Bill Bernstein's erudite history of the causes and consequences of growth grasps the main issues and keeps them up front all the way through. This book is a great magnifying glass for studying the complex world of today.” – Peter L. Bernstein (NB: Mr. Bernstein is not related to the author of The Birth of Plenty.)


Table of Contents



Section I. The Sources of Growth

Chapter 1. A Hypothesis of Wealth

Chapter 2. Property

Chapter 3. Reason

Chapter 4. Capital

Chapter 5. Power, Speed, and Light

Chapter 6. Synthesis of Growth

Section II. Nations

Chapter 7. Holland and England—The Winners

Chapter 8. Runners Up

Chapter 9. The Last

Section III. Consequences

Chapter 10. God, Culture, Mammon, and The Hedonic Treadmill

Chapter 11. The Great Tradeoff

Chapter 12. Mammon and Mars

Chapter 13. The End of Growth?

Chapter 14. When, Where, and Whither

To Efficient Frontier Homepage

Copyright © 2004, William J. Bernstein. All rights reserved.

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