I should mention I finished Why the West Rules a few days ago, and Tyler Cowen was spot on. The author is by training a classical archaeologist, and so the first portion of the book which focuses on archaeology, and up to the classical historical period, is thick, dense, and insightful. But as he pushes past the year 1000 A.D. it starts to become a mishmash of conventional wisdom and thinly explicated secondary sources. It began tight, but slowly unwound. There is no equivalent near the end of the book to the detailed exposition of the importance of the pre-literate Uruk Culture.
Here are some books which I’ve found more useful on the broad topic of economic and social history: