A sweeping narrative history of world trade--from Mesopotamia in 3000 B.C. to the firestorm over globalization today--that brilliantly explores trade's colorful and contentious past and provides new insights into its future Adam Smith wrote that man has an intrinsic "propensity to truck, barter, and exchange one thing for another." But how did trade evolve to the point where we don't think twice about biting into an apple from the other side of the world? In A Splendid Exchange, William J. Bernstein tells the extraordinary story of global commerce from its prehistoric origins to the myriad controversies surrounding it today. He begins in ancient Mesopotamia, where early traders floated barley, copper, and ivory up and down the Tigris and Euphrates, and he moves on to the Greeks, whose grain trade helped ignite the Peloponnesian War. He transports readers from the ships that carried silk from China to Rome on monsoon gales in the second century to the rise and fall of the Portuguese monopoly in spices in the sixteenth; from the rush for sugar that brought the British to Jamaica in 1655 to the American trade battles of the early twentieth century; from key innovations such as steam, steel, and refrigeration to the modern era of televisions from Taiwan, lettuce from Mexico, and T-shirts from China.