Iron, Steam and Money: The Making of the Industrial Revolution
One of the highlights of the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics was the moment at which the green and pleasant land of England gave way to towering chimneys and factories that broke through the landscape and changed it forever. Osborne’s book is the detailed account of how that happened in reality and is a wonderful read. His explanation of the early technologies and how they were developed through the eighteenth century is fascinating. The breadth and scope of development in the 19th century is similarly accessible. Osborne also weaves in the human element to these seismic changes, whether it be the inventors, the men who made vast fortunes from those inventions, or ordinary citizens whose lives were shaped by this new world.
The industrial revolution impacted on every aspect of society. Family life was changed forever, and the system of class emerged. The last section of the book, titled ‘Work’ examines these in detail. Osborne presents the human cost of the industrial revolution in a non-sentimental but deeply moving way. A nice touch is the Capsule Texts, which highlight different issues for the reader. Highly recommended, not only for readers of history but geographers and sociologists too.