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A fresh look at the decades when British ingenuity and technological innovation changed the course of human history and ushered in the modern world.

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 organisation, 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 parlour. 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.

Reviews

Osborne fires [the Industrial Revolution] up with great gusto

Iain Finlayson, The Times

Detailed and scholarly

Steve Craggs, UK Regional Press Syndication

A truly rattling good yarn

Jonathan Glancey, Country Life

Detailed and scholarly

UK Regional Press Syndication

Iron, Steam & Money is an engaging and enjoyable read, and Osborne’s clear prose and simple explanations provide shape and meaning to a concept that in many people’s minds remains a muddled memory from school days

Emma Griffin, BBC History Magazine

Meaty and satisfying

Peter Forbes, Independent (Radar)

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback

    9781845952129

    June 15, 2014

    Pimlico

    400 pages

    RRP $39.99

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  • EBook

    9781446483282

    May 23, 2013

    Vintage Digital

    400 pages

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