Mr. Hohenberg is a professor at Stanford University and this is an ideologically selective primer designed to provide a useful rudimentary perspective on economic development. The first parts of the book are the best, from the Roman Empire to the chapters on French and German development and with an emphasis on England. Preindustrial structures have rarely received a broad outline of this sort from Anglo-American economists, and as Mr. Hohenberg notes, Southern and Eastern Europe are usually slighted. However, his observations of twentieth century economics are far sketchier. There are some nice epigrams (""history knows only special cases"") and there is some good data as the author searches for the palatable least-common-denominator.