The Vital Century: England's Developing Economy, 1714-1815 (Social and Economic History of England) Paperback – 11 May 1992
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'Regardless of their backgrounds, general readers and university students alike have been done a great service by the publication of Professor John Rule's fine pair of historical surveys.'
Top customer reviews
The tone of discussion is bland, the air heavy with spoken and unspoken reservations. Yet all this cautious, unruffled urbanity surrounds the exciting field of eighteenth-century demography!...
Well, that's the bad news about the not-so-vital century. The good news is that the book gets more vital as it goes along. By the time you've finished it you realise you've enjoyed it somewhat but would have enjoyed it more if only you'd known the secret of how to read it. That secret is to read it from back to front.
The conclusion (Ch10) makes a fine, challenging introduction. Ch 9, on debt, taxes and currency, is about a subject that interests everyone. The best three chapters in the book (8,7,6) are on markets, transport, and labour in manufacturing and mining (John Rule's specialist field). Absolutely absorbing - and Chs 4 and 5 on the manufacturing and mining industries are almost as good.
Save Chs 2 and 3 for bedtime. By then you will have been engrossed in a fact-packed incisive survey of the economy of eighteenth-century Britain in which the key points are illustrated with many well-chosen examples. Even human beings creep into the account: farmers, engineers, aristocrats, industrialists and ordinary workers.
The book ranges right across England and spends more space on the provinces than on the capital. It even makes economics (as distinct from demography) a living thing. The chapter on eighteenth-century transport is the best account of this topic I've read anywhere.
Must finish here. I'm going back to re-read the book - beginning at Chapter 10.
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