A excellent review of The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, by Joel Mokyr. Safety copy Dec 00. Original document.
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I think that David Landes's treatment of non-European Eurasia and North Africa is probably wrong in two different dimensions, but let me concentrate only on the first.

The first is Landes's belief that climate near the equator somehow militates against first commercial development and second industrialization. The second is his overly-static picture of the agrarian civilizations of temperate-zone Asia.

Landes wants to argue that because tropical climates are hot and disease-ridden, that human productivity there is low, hence no civilization can ever amass the surplus above biological subsistence necessary to set out on the road that eventually leads to industrialization.

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