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The Industrial Revolution 1760-1830 Paperback – May 1 1997
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?It is certainly rare . . . to find, as in Professor Ashton's work, a combination of neatly summarized research, lively humanity, stimulating generalization, bread-and-butter fact, and an unfailing sense of perspective, all embodied in prose of unmistakable, though entirely unpretentious, quality. It is a pleasure to be able to recommend a book, whether to the student or to the general reader, so entirely without reservation. . . . Few accounts of the great inventions leave the unmechanical reader with any genuine understanding of the problems and solutions involved. This one does.?-The Economist --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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He notes that "It has often been observed that the growth of industry was connected historically with the rise of groups which dissented from the Church by law established in England." (Pg. 14)
He states that as with industries making us of "casual" labor today, "more people entered these trades than could be assured of regular work. Underemployment, rather than periodic unemployment, was the bane of the domestic worker." (Pg. 39)
Ashton points out that throughout the 18th century, it was customary for manufacturers to be paid for their goods as long as two years later; but with the speeding up of transport and communciations, "there was a tendency to shorten the accommodation." He adds, "A new sense of time was one of the outstanding psychological features of the industrial revolution." (Pg. 69)
When dealing with the question of child labor, Ashton cautions us, "The conduct of factory masters must be judged in the light of their own age and of that which preceded it," since we now have a standard of life "immeasurably higher" than theirs, and we place "a different value on child life." (Pg. 79)
He perceptively observes, "It is sometimes suggested that the presence of women in an industry has a humanizing effect on the men who work in it; but one would need to take a very optimistic view of the nature of man to believe that this was true of coal-mining." (Pg. 83)
After noting that not until "the whole apparatus of government has been drastically reformed and a body fo qualified public servants had been called into being could life in urban areas be other than squalid," Ashton summarizes, "If the industrial revolution was not able to bring its rewards in full measure to the ordinary man and woman it is to the defects of administrative, and not of economic processes, that the failure must be ascribed." (Pg. 97)
Ashton's book is an intriguing and persuasive perspecive on this controversial period.