The Industrial Revolution has sometimes been regarded as a catastrophe which desecrated the English landscape and brought social opporession and appalling physical hardship to the workers. In this book, however, it is presented as an important and beneficial mark of progress. In spite of destructive wars and a rapid growth of population, the material living standards of most of the British people improved, and the technical innovations not only brought economic rewards but also provoked greater intellectual ingenuity. Innovation is therefore seen by Ashton not just as an economic course but as a social and cultural process influenced by factors such as war and peace and the framework of law and institutions. Lucidly argued and authoritative, this bookplaces the phenomenon of the Industrial Revolution in a stimulating perpsective. A new Preface by Professor Pat Hudson outlines the results of recent research precipitated by Ashton's themes: the true causes of population growth in the eighteenth century, the nature of the supply of capital, and the new approaches to labour studies amongst others. This Preface places The Industrial Revolution in its contemporary context, and a new thoroughly updated bibliography means that fifty years on, Ashton's work can continue to be of value to modern readers.