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The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective

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Part of New Approaches to Economic and Social History

  • Date Published: April 2009
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521687850

$ 31.99 (P)

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About the Authors
  • Why did the industrial revolution take place in eighteenth-century Britain and not elsewhere in Europe or Asia? In this convincing new account Robert Allen argues that the British industrial revolution was a successful response to the global economy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. He shows that in Britain wages were high and capital and energy cheap in comparison to other countries in Europe and Asia. As a result, the breakthrough technologies of the industrial revolution - the steam engine, the cotton mill, and the substitution of coal for wood in metal production - were uniquely profitable to invent and use in Britain. The high wage economy of pre-industrial Britain also fostered industrial development since more people could afford schooling and apprenticeships. It was only when British engineers made these new technologies more cost-effective during the nineteenth century that the industrial revolution would spread around the world.

    • A major new global economic history of the British industrial revolution
    • Combines economic, social, technological and business history
    • By one of the UK's leading economic historians
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    • Economist Book of the Year 2009

    Reviews & endorsements

    "Robert Allen’s analysis will delight many economists, for he deals in measurable factors such as wages and prices ... This is a beautifully written book, the language as clear as a brook and with the same tumbling energy." -The Economist

    "the smartest thing I have read in at least a year." -Professor J. Bradford DeLong, Department of Economics, University of California, Berkeley

    "...stunningly good study of the Industrial Revolution... The book is well written and is essential reading for anyone wanting to understand the origins of industrial change in the eighteenth century." -Richard Brown, The Historical Association

    "This book's lucidity make it a must read for general reader and specialist alike. Highly recommended." -Choice

    "This is the book you should use to teach the Industrial Revolution." -Journal of Economic History

    See more reviews

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521687850
    • length: 342 pages
    • dimensions: 227 x 152 x 17 mm
    • weight: 0.55kg
    • contains: 10 b/w illus. 21 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    1. The Industrial Revolution and the pre-industrial economy
    Part I:
    2. The high wage economy of pre-industrial Britain
    3. The agricultural revolution
    4. The cheap energy economy
    5. Why England succeeded
    Part II:
    6. Why was the Industrial Revolution British?
    7. The steam engine
    8. Cotton
    9. Coke smelting
    10. Inventors, enlightenment, and human capital
    11. From industrial revolution to modern economic growth.

  • Author

    Robert C. Allen, University of Oxford
    Robert C. Allen is Professor of Economic History at Oxford University and a fellow of Nuffield College. His books include Enclosure and the Yeoman: The Agricultural Development of the South Midlands, 1450–1850 (1992), and Farm to Factory: A Re-interpretation of the Soviet Industrial Revolution (2003), both of which won the Ranki Prize of the Economic History Association.


    • Economist Book of the Year 2009

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