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At the start of the third Christian millennium we are aware of massive political, economic and ideological changes which condition the chances of liberty, wealth and equality. Yet it is surprisingly difficult for us to understand these forces, for we cannot see what surrounds us so closely. This book analyzes our condition by looking at the work of two great thinkers, one of whom provides a deep historical perspective, the other a wide comparative analysis. F.W. Maitland (1850-1906) was a philosopher who provides a brilliant sketch of how our strange world has come about, particularly in his work on associations and trusts. Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835-1901) more than any other created the institutions of modern Japan. As an outsider he provides a useful insight into the heart of the new capitalist and industrial civilization which had emerged in the west.
ALAN MACFARLANE is Professor of Anthropological Science at the University of Cambridge and a Fellow of King's College, Cambridge. His previous books include Marriage and Love in England, 1300-1840, The Savage Wars of Peace and The Riddle of the Modern World.