This book, the last work of the great German sociologist and historian Max Weber (1864-1920), is based on a series of lectures he delivered in 1919-20. The present volume brings together major ideas that explain economic life and change. Beginning with descriptions and analyses of the early agrarian systems, Part One takes the reader through the manorial system, the guilds, and early capitalism as developed on plantations and other estates. Part Two considers the economic organization of industry and mining, while Part Three discusses the development of commerce, technical requisites for transporting goods, and banking systems. The last section surveys, among other topics, the evolution of capitalism and the capitalistic spirit. It also includes Weber's famous discussion of the relationship of religion to the cultural history of capitalism. This excellent English-language version of a work renowned for its interpretive brilliance, is intended for students of the social sciences as well as general readers.