Eric Hobsbawm's analysis of the Industrial Revolution is magisterial. The IR was not only an acceleration of growth, but an acceleration of growth through economic and social transformation.
It was also solidly founded on political and military pillars.
Politically, the kings were subordinated to Parliament, which was controlled by an oligarchy of landowning capitalist aristocrats. The British government based nearly all its policies on economic ends. At home, it provided support for technical innovation and the development of the capital goods industry. It crushed also foreign competition. Its foreign policies were based on war and colonization, which permitted to capture other countries' export markets.
Militarilly, it used the strenght of its Navy as a trade-minded weapon.
The first phase of the IR (1780-1840) was based on cotton; the second one on coal, iron and steel.
It constituted for nearly the whole British population a fundamental change, from the countryside to the city, and from a life of bare and uncertain subsistence to relative affluence.
The decline began already before WWI, when Britain became a parasitic economy, living off the remains of world monopoly.
The last part of the book is rather more an enumeration of pure statistics.
The author states also that Britain was 'never defeated in war, still less destroyed.'
In his magnificent biography of J.M. Keynes (part II), Prof. Skidelsky shows clearly that the debt contracted during WWII left Britain bankrupt after the war. His analysis of the negotiations about the Bretton-Woods system and the conversion of the British debt exposes mightily that the ultimate goal of the US Administration was the destruction of the British Empire and its Commonwealth ties. The US operation was a sound success.
The US assured its place as new world leader, until now.
A highly recommended book.