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Empire of Things

How We Became a World of Consumers, from the Fifteenth Century to the Twenty-First

(UK: Allen Lane/Penguin, 2016; USA: HarperCollins, 2016; also available as an audio book at Audible; German edition forthcoming with DVA in spring 2017; Italian edn: Einaudi 2017; Russia: Eksmo, 2017, Taiwan: Ye-ren; Chinese edition with Ginkgo Press)

Now available in paperback!

“Empire of Things is a masterpiece of historical research ... a delight to read.”


THE SUNDAY TIMES; BBC History Magazine

Shortlisted NDR non-fiction prize (Germany); Austrian Wissenschaftspreis

Read reviews and articles and listen and watch here

The epic history of consumption, and the goods that have transformed our lives over the past 600 years

What we consume has become the defining feature of our lives: our economies live or die by spending, we are treated more as consumers than workers, and even public services are presented to us as products in a supermarket. In this monumental study, acclaimed historian Frank Trentmann unfolds the extraordinary history that has shaped our material world, from late Ming China, Renaissance Italy and the British empire to the present. Astonishingly wide-ranging and rich, Empire of Things explores how we have come to live with so much more, how this changed the course of history, and the global challenges we face as a result.

Frank Trentmann is Professor of History at Birkbeck College, University of London, and directed the £5 million Cultures of Consumption research programme. His last book, Free Trade Nation, won the Whitfield Prize for outstanding historical scholarship and achievement from the Royal Historical Society. He was educated at Hamburg University, the LSE and at Harvard, where he received his PhD.

The full bibliography for Empire of Things can be downloaded from here as an Adobe PDF file using the link below.  You will need the Reader software available from here to view this file.

Empire of Things full bibliography (PDF, 2.08MB)

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Empire of Things, Penguin Paperback, Front cover, linking through to Amazon UK Empire of Things, Harper Paperback, Front cover