The book is concerned with the origins of capitalism, the conditions that accompanied its birth, and the needs that it nurtures and satisfies. It is the essence of the author's argument that capitalism is more than an economic system: it is a culture that affects not just the material but also the social, familial and even spiritual bases of existence.

As both an historian and an anthropologist, Dr Macfarlane is able to explore capitalist society from a number of original perspectives. He considers, for example, the nature of eveil, attitudes towards love and the family, the phenomenon of violence, population change and revolution, and how we have come both to dominate and to revere the natural world. Alan Macfarlane's investigations of these subjects lead him towards the answers to two tantalizing and crucial quetions: where did capitalism come from, and why.

Based on new research data generated by detailed, historical community studies, and literature on non-western societies, this book offers searching observations on the origins of modern civilization.


1 Peasants: the Peasantry in England before the Industrial Revolution - a Mythical Model?

2 Population: Modes of Reproduction

3 Violence: Peasants and Bandits

4 Nature: Man and the Natural World

5 Evil: the Root of all Evil

6 Love: Love and Capitalism

7 Revolution: Socioeconomic Revolution and the Origin of the Modern World

8 Capitalism: the Cradle of Capitalism - the Case of England

Postscript: Individualism Reconsidered or the Craft of the Historian

Appendix: the Nature of Capitalism