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Industry and Empire: The Birth of the Industrial Revolution Paperback – September 1, 1999
"Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress"
Is the world really falling apart? Is the ideal of progress obsolete? Cognitive scientist and public intellectual Steven Pinker urges us to step back from the gory headlines and prophecies of doom, and instead, follow the data: In seventy-five jaw-dropping graphs, Pinker shows that life, health, prosperity, safety, peace, knowledge, and happiness are on the rise. Learn more
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A masterly survey of the major economic developments and changes of the last two hundred years, sharply and ironically observed, and elegantly written. -- Guardian
An original and masterly reinterpretation of Western economic (not to speak of social and political) history, [from] by far the most gifted economic historian now writing. -- The Listener
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While some readers express some displeasure with Hobsbawn's bias towards communism, his exploration of the origins of the Industrial Revolution is thorough. It depicts Britain's rise to the top as a major industrial power, and then its sharp decline. The text does a fine job of incorporating political, economic, and historical perspectives to paint an accurate picture of the world as it existed hundreds of years ago. I would reserve praise regarding the time's ethnology to Andrew Lees who tackles this in Cities Perceived: Urban Society in European and American Thought, 1820-1940.
If you are trying to obtain deep insight into this historical period, Hobsbawn's book is the ideal place to start. His work as a teacher in New York as well as a historical author has helped him become an expert in the field. His qualifications to write Industry and Empire are so rich that I've heard it described as "ironically observed" and "elegantly written." As he says, "what the contemporary observer sees is not necessarily the truth." For that, I recommend you to add this to your history bookshelf.
Hobsbawm is probably as well equipped as anyone to try to answer this question, and does a pretty good job of it, I think. At least his method, to concentrate on the antecedent macro-economic setting, and to compare its more or less unique features with other competing regions, rather than such vague and elusive possibilities of a superior political system or a certain theological proclivity toward work or something, appears to be sound. His focus seldom refers to personalities, nor, surprisingly, the technological inventions that were so important--he seems to assumes that they were made as a matter of course, given the business climate of the times.
The book covers much more than the industrial revolution-- it carries the narrative into the last half of the twentieth century, and covers the same ground in Wales and Scotland, too. His writing style is a pleasure to read and the book is accompanied by 52 graphs in an appendix that brings some additional meat to the table. This is quite possibly the best book around for understanding this critical period in the progress of man, and rewards time well spent.
The book is good even if you're not particularly interested in the specific history of the emergence of the industrial revolution in Great Britain because it's a wonderful introduction to economic reasoning from a left perspective, real materialist economic history, and going through the book, which is not as easy as Howard Zinn, for instance, will give you an introduction to what's possible in analyzing how society works.
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by Hobsbawm's Marxist philosophy.Read more
Maybe you could introduce a toool so that the reader could underline, not highlight parts of the text.Read more