This important new book investigates how the West attained its current position of economic and social advantage. In an incisive historical analysis, Jack Goody examines when and why Europe (and Anglo-America) started to outstrip all other continents in socio-economic growth. Drawing on non-Western examples of economic and technical progress, Goody challenges assumptions about long-term European supremacy of a 'cultural' kind, as was a feature of many theories current in social science. He argues that the divergence came with the Industrial Revolution and that the earlier bourgeois revolution of the sixteenth century was but one among many Eurasia-wide expressions of developing mercantile and manufacturing activity. This original book casts new light on the history of capitalism, industrialization and modernity, and will be essential reading for all those interested in the great debate about the economic rise of the West.