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Digital Subscriptions > History Revealed > February 2016 > Books

Books

BOOK OF THE MONTH

ALAMY X1, GETTY X1

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

By Frank Trentmann Allen Lane, £30, 880 pages, hardback

With the internet always at our fingertips, being a consumer has become a very different thing to how people lived the past. It is now ordinary for people in 21st-century Britain to be able to buy seemingly anything and everything in an instant at the touch of a few buttons. But, as Frank Trentmann argues, it’s actually extraordinary, and he suggests that we need to examine this consumerism as part of a much broader historical trend. Only by doing so, can we see it as a way of life that can’t go on forever. If this sounds like a dry, worthy essay, however, fear not. Studded with surprising examples and illuminating case studies, it’s hugely thought-provoking.

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The February 2016 issue of History Revealed
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