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The Industrial Revolutionaries: The Making of the Modern World 1776-1914 Hardcover – Apr 2009


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Hardcover, Apr 2009
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Grove Press (April 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802118992
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802118998
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 16.2 x 3.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,624,738 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"* 'Ambitious... clear-sighted... fascinating... Instead of simply replacing one set of triumphalist myths with an alternative one, Weightman practises real history.' - Brian Morton, Sunday Herald * 'Weightman paints a subtle and varied picture... [he] has managed the difficult task of producing an account of the industrialising world that gives proper honour to his chosen grand narrative as well as to the hundreds of little local stories that both nourish and complicate it.' - Kathryn Hughes, Guardian * 'It is one of the pleasures of Weightman's book to see how technology rose above nationality... the interconnectedness of this world of invention and technology is extraordinary... Wonderful.' - Judith Flanders, Sunday Telegraph * 'In this lively study, there is little room for the dry academic prose that so often makes economic histories a painful reading experience. Instead, we have a wealth of vivid portraits of figures from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries... Excellent.' - Leo McKinstry, Literary Review" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Gavin Weightman is social historian based in London. His books include the best-selling London River: A History of the Thames, The Frozen Water Trade, an account of the American natural ice industry, and most recently a history of wireless, Signor Marconi's Magic Box. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Big Jim TOP 100 REVIEWER on 30 April 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is one of a number of recent history books that are academically well researched, but are so well written with the layman in mind, that interest is maintained throughout and a truly remarkable story emerges. Rather than just concentrating on any one country's response to the industrial revolution, Gavin Weightman lays greater emphasis on the transmission of ideas between countries and continents, concentrating less on the well known (and often unjustifiably praised) pioneer inventors and more on the entrepreneurs or "fixers" who were ideas men who got unsung engineers in to turn their dreams into reality. What was especially fascinating for me were the stories relating to how Japan came late to industrialism but how within 50 years they had virtually caught the rest of the industrialised nations up.

There is an extensive bibliography for those who want to delve deeper into individual aspects of this subject, as it has to be admitted this is a sketch of what is obviously a much wider subject. Still it is a very good, interesting and thought provoking sketch which should appeal to anyone interested in this era of history.

One caveat would have to be that there are numerous typographical errors, stray hyphens and commas in my paperback edition which suggests that the proofs were just spell checked rather than read, but this is a minor quibble.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T. Pinchin on 12 Jun. 2010
Format: Paperback
Once again Gavin Weightman had me reading faster and faster to absorb the addictively interesting content of his book. So many books on the industrial revolution concentrate on the nuts and bolts of the inventions but in Gavin's book we are shown the human side of the evolution of modern technology along with the competitive spirit and political influences. The book gallops along at a pace telling us what happened in England but also within the context of Europe and the USA as well as other parts of the world. I'll bet not many people know the family history of Isambard Kingdom Brunel in the context of the French Revolution and how he came to be in England but it is all in this treatment of the Industrial Revolution - from the people perspective. I thoroughly recommend the book, not only to realise that the UK made a significant contribution to all that manufacturing that we have now exported but to celebrate the many unsung heroes that the book tells us about, when most people's knowledge is limited to Arkwright, Watt and Brunel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James-philip Harries on 8 Sept. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In the days when patents were vague and engineering drawing was so bad it was child's play, the only way technology could be transplanted was to entice the artisans abroad. So the author tells his history through short lives of the pioneers, and very entertaining it is too.

After about the Great Exhibition the author discerns a fundamental shift, where instead of a source of innovation (Britain) an archipelago of science and engineering produces innovation. He keeps with the biographical format, and follows various themes in the development of chemical, mechanical and electrical advances through the lives of the inventors. These lives were not easy. For every Bessemer or Nobel who made fortunes, there were a dozen who ended in the poor house.

Weightman is agreeably opinionated and avoids that awful historian's twitch "he she must have felt.." and gives a good kicking to some of his subjects, Watt, Morse and Edison in particular. His choice of people should not be questioned, perhaps, but some omissions are a bit odd. No mention of the man who allowed Brunel to build his bridges by inventing concrete? No mention of reinforced concrete (invented by a gardener; par for the course among this rogues' gallery)? The machine age needed machines to be repaired. Cue some standards so that parts (initially just nuts and bolts) could be exchanged: Joseph Whitworth gets a one line mention on another subject.

If you had Workshop of the World as a set text you may feel you know enough about the period. If you've slogged through the statistical tables of more academic texts you may feel you know more than enough. But this is an entertaining complement, good for the student and the amateur. The author has a knack for concise technical explanation which makes the limited illustrations superfluous.

Probably not a classic but highly recommended.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By The Big Bear on 22 April 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is the perfect introduction for anyone wanting to learn of the origins of industry between 1776 and 1914. The chapters flow with interesting insights into the pioneers and inventors around the world at that time, with the end of one chapter acting as the introduction to the next.
It certainly removes some of the myths and legends that surround the inventions of the time, especially the Morse code chapter.
The books covers all the major technologies of the time in Europe and America in a most readable and non stuffy way.

A must for anyone interested in the history of this period.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Mr. E. L. Hitchcock on 28 Feb. 2010
Format: Paperback
A fascinating and very detailed account of the work of a very large number of people who, taken together, were responsible for much of the man-made environment in which we live today. Too many accounts of how, and who by, inventions were made attribute the invention to a single man. This work accepts the reality that several people were usually involved, and describes the contribution of each.
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