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Reviewed by:
  • Nation, State and the Economy in History
  • Frank B. Tipton
Nation, State and the Economy in History. Edited by Alice Teichova and Herbert Matis. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 450 + xvi pp. $75.00 (hardcover).

This is a biggish book on a very big topic. Following a "Pre-Congress Conference" inVienna in 1999, the chapters were presented at a session sponsored by the International Economic History Association at the International Congress of Historical Sciences in Oslo in 2000. The book is organized by countries. Part 1 has chapters on Britain, France, and Germany; two chapters on Norway and Sweden; and a chapter on Spain. Part 2 has an overview of Central and Eastern Europe, and chapters on Austria, Czechoslovakia, Serbia, and Russia. Part 3 has a survey of Sub-Saharan Africa, and chapters on Senegal and on Israel. Part 4 has a chapter on India and Pakistan, and chapters on China and on Japan. Part 5 has a chapter comparing Brazil and Mexico, another chapter on Brazil, and chapters on the United States and on Australia.

Despite the effort and resources devoted to the project, it is not clear what exactly the editors and contributors intended to accomplish, or who the intended audience is. The coverage is uneven, but there is no attempt to justify the odd mix of cases. The editors appear not to have exercised any control over the chapter authors aside possibly from a word limit (François Crouzet complains of lack of space, p. 55 n. 33). Topics and treatment vary widely and the time frames considered range from years or decades, through one or two centuries, up to near millennia. There are no connections among the chapters themselves, and [End Page 400] none of the chapters considers systematically the elements mentioned by the editors as important in the development of the nation-state (p. 1)—the Enlightenment, Romanticism, emergence of a public sphere, decline of feudalism and religious belief, rise of civil society.

In general, as the authors are eminent economic historians they are aware that economies change over time. Most are also aware that states change over time. However, they appear unaware that there is a large amount of literature on the state and its role in economic life. Among those not in the index are Peter Evans, Chalmers Johnson, Peter Katzenstein, Stephen Krasner, Michael Mann, Theda Skocpol, and Charles Tilly. The authors also seem only dimly aware that there is a large amount of literature on nations and national identities. Also missing from the index are Anthony Smith, Benedict Anderson, and Liah Greenfeld. Imagined communities are mentioned twice, but only once with Anderson cited. Greenfeld is cited by Gavin Wright to the effect that American nationalism is the second oldest (p. 401 n. 1), butWright ends his chapter in 1810 and seems not to know that Greenfeld regards the Civil War as the decisive event in forming the American identity. Eric Hobsbawn is indexed twice, but only once as a theorist of nationalism and that time without a reference. Ernest Gellner is the only theorist of nationalism considered at any length, but only in the chapter on Russia by Peter Gatrell and Boris Anan'ich, and they broadly reject his approach (pp. 221-222, 226-233).

I suspect most readers will turn first, and possibly exclusively, to the chapters on the countries they know best. Others may have better luck, but my experience with Germany, Japan, the United States, and Australia has been disappointing. Gerd Hardach surveys German history from 1815 to 2000, with a Germanic ninety notes and some two hundred works cited, but he begins with an uncritical acceptance of the outmoded notion of Germany as a "belated" nation, and at only eighteen pages, the results are superficial. Friedrich List is not even mentioned. Hidemasa Morikawa's chapter on Japan is itself an example of nihonjinron, the cultural nationalism analyzed by KosakuYoshino (see SandraWilson, ed., Nation and Nationalism in Japan [London, 2002]). Morikawa believes that Japan "became a nation-state by the end of the twelfth century, and has remained one ever since," because "Japan, an island nation lying off the farthest reaches of East Asia, was thereby...