Gavin Weightman is a noted historian and film-maker. His latest book, What the Industrial Revolution Did For Us accompanies the BBC TV series. The book is made up of six detailed and beautifully illustrated chapters covering aspects of the Industrial Revolution including the invention of new machinery and technology, the changing face of the landscape and the improvement in transport; the working conditions of the poor and the changes in law, advances in medicine and the development of new military weaponry; the emergence of cotton and the arrival of tea. The stars of the show are the visionary Renaissance men, the polymaths inventing, manufacturing, and engineering who gave the revolution its momentum.
Weightman's prose style is clear, engaging and economical so although this is a detailed and scholarly work, the narrative moves along at a fairly rapid pace. As one might expect the book is full of fine illustrations, drawings, paintings, cartoons, advertisements, maps and designs as well as first-hand eye-witness accounts, excerpts from books, letters and diaries. Overall, the book is well written, well paced, highly educative, very stylish and an accessible introduction to the period which shaped the modern world. --Larry Brown
From the Author
The reviewer of my book has failed to understand that it is about "The First Industrial Revolution" which most authorities fix at 1770 to 1830. I have a fair bit about Marc Isambard Brunel, less about his son Isambard Kingdom born in 1806 who was starting out at the end of the period covered. Hobsbawm's excellent Industry and Empire takes industrialism way beyond 1830 and is not as relevant as Deane for that reason. As to medicine, inoculation, patent medicines etc, it would be a hopelessly narrow definition of "industrialism" which confined itself to trains and the like. The beginnings of "scientific medicine" are highly relevant. Finally, it is quite true that nothing much was developed in the way of new weaponry before 1830 though the American Robert Fulton, having failed to blow up, first, the British Navy and then Napoleon's invasion fleet, did start the first ever commercial steamboat service on the Hudson River.
About the Author
Gavin Weightman was brought up and educated in London. For many years he worked as a journalist, writing for New Society and History Today, before joining London Weekend Television where he was a producer and director of many highly acclaimed series including 'The Making of Modern London'. His books include the bestseller London's Thames and The Frozen Water Trade and Signor Marconi's Magic Box.