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What the Victorians Did for Us Paperback – August 1, 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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From the Publisher

When Victoria came to the throne in 1837, Britain was on the brink of world supremacy in the production of iron, steel, and steam engines, and had seen an explosion of growth and developments that included railways, the electric telegraph, and wool production. The tremendous feeling of national pride was celebrated in the Great Exhibition of 1851. Drawing on his consummate skill as a storyteller, Adam Hart–Davis shows how Victorian movers and shakers changed our world.

About the Author

Adam Hart-Davis was educated at Eton and Oxford. He is best known for presenting on BBC2 'What the Romans Did for Us' and 'Local Heroes'. He also presents science programmes on Radio 4 and is a photographer whose pictures have appeared in hundreds of books and magazines.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Headline Book Publishing (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075531137X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0755311378
  • Product Dimensions: 7.2 x 0.6 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,915,623 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By Michael K. Smith TOP 1000 REVIEWER on July 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
This was published to accompany a BBC series of the same name, one of several similar projects by Hart-Davis, a science journalist. When Victoria died in 1901, the world was a vastly different place than when she acceded to the throne in 1837. Britain had built a worldwide empire, had become dominant in the growth of technology and the production of everything from steel and steam engines to branded flour and disposable razor blades. Some time is spent on basic science, especially geology and fossils, and Darwin's inspired notion of evolution, but because it was made for television, most of the program (and the book) have to deal with the visible results of science. While there's a good deal of fascinating anecdotal history here -- gardener Joseph Paxton and his innovative design for the Crystal Palace, for instance, and the "Great Stink" caused by the long, hot summer of 1858 and the debate in Parliament that led to the building of London's sewer system (which also meant the end of cholera and typhoid and established Portland cement as a superior construction medium) -- but it's all a bit superficial. There are a few small errors, too: Temperature isn't measured in "kelvins," but in Celsius-sized degrees on the Kelvin scale, which simply begins much lower. And (in the section on crime and the development of forensics) the author describes Sherlock Holmes "with his Ulster cape, his deerstalker hat and his magnifying glass." But Conan Doyle never gave Holmes a deerstalker; that was added only in the Basil Rathbone films. It's interesting, too, how many inventions and innovations supposedly were made in or near Bristol, . . . where Hart-Davis just happens to come from. In my opinion, Burke's "Connections" series did all this better. But, still, it's a fun read.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is reallly meant for the general history reader, not the informed specialist. The sections are written in a lively narrative style best enjoyed, I think, in gradual doses of knowledge. The black and white photos and color illustrations are first-rate. Most of all, this book corrects an idea (for many of us) that Victorians were dull people, less exciting that Henry VIII or Shakespeare's kings. I took a history major in college, where I did not study this post-Napoleon era. Well, I am happy that Mr. Hart-Davis' book has awakened my admiration for Victorian ingenuity and skills.
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Format: Paperback
This powerfully written book is a treasure trove of information about that most mis-understood of races, the Victorian. Adam Hart-Davis takes us on a journey of discovery as we learn about the warlike nature of the Victorian tribe, and their Queen, Queen Victorian.
Shiver with amazement at Hart-Davis' revelation that Victoria's Secret (from which the famous lingerie designer takes its name) was that she had a wooden leg, carved from the steering wheel of the Cutty Sark, her famous flagship. Marvel at the reconstructed dialogue between Queen Victoriana and her gardener, Billy Connolly, and shed real tears when revered historian Hart-Davis describes in detail the controversial discovery that Connolly used his bushy, purple beard to keep Queen Victorianian warm during a long ride around Balmoral. What I like most about this book is Hart-Davis insists on sticking to facts, when other "historians" muddy the waters with fallacy and speculation. I particularly enjoyed Hart-Davis hand-drawn illustrations, and the inclusion of Victorian-Bath and Lord Michael Caine at the battle of the Zulus ("there's faasands of 'em") is a particularly stunning picture.
All-in-all, an excellent Christmas gift idea. Top Marks.
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