Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction, by Robert Allen provides an excellent overview of global economic change over the last 500 years. Allen is an expert on the Industrial Revolution, but this tiny book also showcases his authority on other, less popular histories, including the economic changes of Russia, Japan and the Americas. Allen excels at fusing economic theory and long data series into a narrative that would be understandable to any high-school student. Perhaps he should consider expanding this into a textbook for undergraduate students (as I’ve suggested to him, although he looked less than thrilled). I am more critical of his contribution on African economic history, as I’ve said before. But this should not keep anyone from buying this as a Christmas gift for someone vaguely interested in economics, world history or those simply interested in understanding why some regions of the world prospered while others remained poor.