Iron, Steam & Money: The Making of the Industrial Revolution

Iron, Steam & Money: The Making of the Industrial Revolution

by Roger Osborne


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In late eighteenth-century Britain a handful of men brought about the greatest transformation in human history. Inventors, industrialists, and entrepreneurs ushered in the age of powered machinery and the factory, and thereby changed the whole of human society, bringing into being new methods of social and economic organization, new social classes, and new political forces. The Industrial Revolution also dramatically altered humanity's relation to the natural world and embedded the belief that change, not stasis, is the necessary backdrop for human existence. Iron, Steam and Money tells the thrilling story of those few decades, the moments of inspiration, the rivalries, skulduggery, and death threats, and the tireless perseverance of the visionaries who made it all happen. Richard Arkwright, James Watt, Richard Trevithick, and Josiah Wedgwood are among the giants whose achievements and tragedies fill these pages. In this authoritative study Roger Osborne also shows how and why the revolution happened, revealing pre-industrial Britain as a surprisingly affluent society, with wealth spread widely through the population, and with craft industries in every town, village, and front parlor. The combination of disposable income, widespread demand for industrial goods, and a generation of time-served artisans created the unique conditions that propelled humanity into the modern world. The industrial revolution was arguably the most important episode in modern human history; Iron, Steam and Money reminds us of its central role, while showing the extraordinary excitement of those tumultuous decades.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781845952129
Publisher: Random House UK
Publication date: 08/15/2014
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Roger Osborne is the author of a dozen books that provide new insights into episodes, events, and movements in world history. His major works include Civilization: A New History of the Western World and The Floating Egg: Episodes in the Making of Geology. He is also a playwright; his political drama, The Art of Persuasion, was first performed in 2011.

Table of Contents

List of Capsule Texts vii

Introduction 1

Prologue: Britain On the Verge 8

Part I Invention

1 The Watershed 29

2 Inventors and Inventing 35

3 Navigating the Patent System 47

Part II Coal

4 Fuelling the Revolution 55

Part III Power

5 Watermills and Wheels 77

6 Steam before Newcomen 82

7 The Newcomen Engine 92

8 James Watt's Revolution 107

9 Richard Trevithick: Steam into Motion 137

Part IV Cotton

10 The Rise of Cotton 151

11 Spinning and Weaving 167

12 Richard Arkwright: the King of Cotton 190

13 Arkwright on Trial 207

14 Manchester: the First Industrial City 215

Part V Iron

15 Abraham Darby's Blast Furnace 229

16 Henry Cort and Cheap Iron 240

17 Crucible Steel 249

Part VI Transport

18 Rivers and Roads 257

19 Canals and Locomotives 266

Part VII Money

20 Producers and Consumers 285

21 Money for Industry 295

22 Adam Smith and the Industrial Economy 304

Part VIII Work

23 The Nature of Work and the Rise of the Factory 313

24 Life in the Industrial City 334

Epilogue: Britain in the 1830s 343

Notes 347

Select Bibliography 365

Index 375

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