Introduction: a new perspective on modern German history
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Heinrich Winkler’s two volume history of Germany in the nineteenth and twentieth century is titled Der lange Weg nach Westen. For him, ‘nach Westen’ means becoming a Western democracy, like England, France and the US. How did they do it?
Douglass North, John Wallis, and Barry Weingast, in their book Violence and Social Orders: a Framework for Interpreting Recorded Human History (2009), take up the question of how countries make such a transition. The framework is that of limited and open access orders (LAO/OAO), as explained in Steven Webb’s article in this issue. Although they intend the framework for universal application, most of the North, Wallis, and Weingast book focuses on the economic and political history of England, the US, and France from early modern times up to the end of the nineteenth century—the times when these three countries became Western capitalist democracies as we think of them today. Violence and Social Ordersdoes not discuss the twentieth and twenty-first...