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Eurocentrism is abandoned in this text, as the author sees the rise of the West as a mere blip in what was, and is again becoming, an Asian-centred world. In a challenge to received historiography and social theory, the author discounts the world according to Marx, Weber and other theorists, and explains the rise of the West in world economic and demographic terms that relate it in a single historical sweep to the decline of the East around 1800. European states used the silver extracted from the American colonies to buy entry into an expanding Asian market that already flourished in the global economy. Resorting to import substitution and export promotion in the world market, they became newly industrialized economies and tipped the global economic balance to the West. This is what East Asia is doing today, the author points out, to recover its traditional dominance. As a result the "centre" of the world economy is once again moving to the "Middle Kingdom" of China.
Andre Gunder Frank, of the University of Toronto, has published more than thirty books. Most recently he coedited, with Barry Gills, World System: Five Hundred Years or Five Thousand? (1996).