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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Economic Growth in Britain and France, 1780-1914: Two Paths to the Twentieth Century

Whew, just reading the title of that book wore me out.  This book was one I read for research on my term paper on French economic history.  Originally I was going to write a paper on French economic history from the industrial revolution to the present, that turned out to be a too broad nightmare.  I then decided to write a paper on whether or not the French Revolution made workers better off, no dice, there is not a lot of material on that kind of history, probably because as soon as the French revolution was over Napoleon was in power so there just isn't a whole lot of French revolutionary history without taking into account the effects of the empire.  Lastly I decided that my best plan was to write about France during the industrial revolution, mostly because there were lots of books at the University library about it.

The University library is an amazing place.  I've never seen a collection of such amazing books about history and economics and math and social sciences before.  If I won a big lottery prize I would probably spend all day and night at a university library.  There is no larger collection of books there that no-one wants to read.  Another book I read for this paper was Rondo Cameron's France and the Economic Development of Europe which has been checked out twice before my since it was published in 1962.  One of the checkouts was returned the same day and since it is a thousand page monstrosity of tables, charts and dense statistics I'm positive that unless it was John Nash that checked it out that day it was not completely read.

The horrifying thing about my choice of paper topic was that I read my professor's bio after I'd chosen the topic and it turns out he is an expert on French economic history.  Since I'm totally obsessed with grades and any other form of achievement, I knew that it was going to be some work to get an A.  I ended up reading 1500 pages altogether of French economic history to get my paper done.  I've collected my A though and O'brien and Cameron have gone back to collecting dust.

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