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Less a revolution than a struggle...,
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This review is from: A Short History of the British Industrial Revolution (Paperback)
Griffin's account of the Industrial Revolution rather modishly reminds us that it was only ever called that in retrospect, reflecting the need of subsequent generations to understand the processes and causes of so much social and economic change. Her emphasis on getting the data to help understand what these were, and what drove them, is refreshing and astute, enabling some realistic comparison between economies and the means of distinguishing their relative performance. The best chapters are the final two, where she makes use of the data to best effect. Griffin is surely correct to suggest it was not simply the availability of coal that forced the pace of industrialisation in Britain, but more generally the need to use energy as a way of avoiding high labour costs (and this just happended to be through coal in the UK). Further, the chapter on social conditions illustrates just how difficult it can be to draw conclusions from patchy evidence, but whilst the exploitation of energy certainly generated more wealth, in Griffin's view it failed to create much social justice or distribute the benefits of prosperity to the hard workers who suffered so much to make it happen.