The belief that existing distributions of income and wealth are unjust has come to be widely held, and has prompted the inclusion of egalitarian measures in many political programmes. This work uses the methods of reasoned history and comparative statistics to arrive at an assessment of egalitarianism. After reviewing the outlooks of the ancient and medieval worlds, it traces the rise of egalitarianism from the Renaissance and Reformation onwards.
A complementary approach is provided by a wide survey of actual distributions of income and wealth: what is known of them in the past, what form they take in contemporary societies, and the
economic processes that generate them. These comprehensive studies lead to an inquiry into the authority of equality as a principle of social philosophy, and the practicability of egalitarian policy.
' a monumental study on the practical and theoretical aspects of egalitarianism'
' magisterial new work ... Sir Henry has written a necessary book as well as a learned one. It is a chronicle of processes in which he has been distinguished both as actor and author, an implicit monument to the revolution of our time.'
New Statesman and Society
'a vast and learned treatise ... It is quite breathtaking in its sweep and range, yet it is meticulously thorough in its attention to detail; densely argued yet clearly written; scholarly and detached but provocative and lively in its conclusions. It is unlikely to be replaced for a very long time.'
Times Higher Education Supplement
'I found genuinely impressive his capabilities in organizing such a huge and heterogeneous literature and in producing a book which is both clearly written and stimulating ... this book shoyuld be welcome by social scientists; it does provide an interesting point of view and, because of its own high standard, could indicate further research on an important topic.'
Flavio Delbono, University of Verona, Economic Notes
'Lucid prose makes this entangled topic as clear as possible and sometimes clearer than one would have thought possible. You have to read this book with a light pencil in hand, marking some sentences as milestones of your long journey, but that's true of many important books.'
Geoffrey Blainey, The Independent Monthly
'This is a monumental survey into the theory and practice of income distribution and wealth ... very valuable'
Derek H. Aldcroft, University of Leicester, History No 243 Feb 1990
'an impressive, comprehensive treatment of the philosophical, political, and economic aspects of economic inequality ... the author's mastery of the material should ensure its inclusion on most undergraduate and graduate reading lists for courses concerned with income distribution'
R.S. Hewitt, Drake University, Choice, Sep '89
'anyone engaging with this rich and ambitious work can hardly fail to be struck by the depth as well as the breadth of the author's own learning ... It is written with exemplary clarity and is illuminated by its author's literary sensitivity.'
P.J. Marshall, Professor of Imperial History, King's College, London, Wadham Gazette, Jan, '91
'magnificently written book ... a thought provoking and highly literate history of the evolution of British (and related) ideas on egalitarianism over the last 1000 years.'
Paul Taubman, University of Pennsylvania, Journal of Economic Literature, Vol. XXVIII (March 1990)