I cannot pretend to have the expertise to review this book. I simply wish to recommend it as a representative general reader or layman. Anyone with an interest in history, politics, economics, or, for that matter, literature, will enjoy this book and learn from it. Its account of the period I guarantee will provide a fresh perspective. The economics of institutions provides a robust framework for the detailed narrative. The author, unlike all too many economists and historians, writes very clearly and entertainingly. My only question concerns the treatment of empire. The author is mainly interested in whether empire gave Britain an advantage that might explain why the Industrial Revolution began here rather than elsewhere in Europe. I can't help feeling that he understates the benefits of empire to the European imperial powers as a whole and increasingly to Britain in particular. Why else the expense of blood and treasure? As I say, however, I am no expert. Read the book.
How did the Ionian Greeks get the Greek technology and culture started. And then there was the Italian renaissance and then things happened in Germany and then in the Netherlands. One can relatively easily find explanations about how it could happen but nothing much about how and why it actually did happen. This book and The Lunar Men: The Friends Who Made the Future 1730-1810 give an explanation.