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The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution

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The Industrial Revolution

In partnership with
Professor Patrick N. Allitt, Ph.D.
Emory University
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4.7 out of 5
52 Reviews
96% of reviewers would recommend this series
Course No. 8950
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  • You should buy audio if you would enjoy the convenience of experiencing this course while driving, exercising, etc. While the video does contain visual elements, the professor presents the material in an engaging and clear manner, so the visuals are not necessary to understand the concepts. Additionally, the audio audience may refer to the accompanying course guidebook for names, works, and examples that are cited throughout the course.
  • You should buy video if you prefer learning visually and wish to take advantage of the visual elements featured in this course. The video version is richly illustrated with more than 660 visual elements to enhance your comprehension of the material. Featured are animations; portraits of the engineers, inventors, architects, designers, economists, and political thinkers discussed; and a treasure trove of historical imagery culled from the Smithsonian Institution. On-screen text such as spellings and definitions are also used to help reinforce material for visual learners.
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Course Overview

We owe so much of our world to the Industrial Revolution. The lights that illuminate our homes, the cars that carry us to work, the computers that help drive our economy, and the appliances that make our lives easier—these technologies exist thanks to a remarkable group of scientists and entrepreneurs who, over the past 250 years, have transformed virtually every aspect of our lives and fueled one of the greatest periods of innovation in history.

You would have to look back to the Neolithic Revolution (the invention of agriculture) to find a comparable era when a new set of processes completely overwrote the old one.  What happened to allow for such a transformation? How did governments, businesses, and ordinary laborers—beginning in 18th-century Britain—create the forces that completely upended modern society? And how are the innovations and processes of industry still at work transforming the world today?

In The Industrial Revolution, The Great Courses partners with the Smithsonian—one of the world’s most storied and exceptional educational institutions—to answer these questions and more. Taught by longtime Great Courses favorite professor Patrick N. Allitt of Emory University, this course is a fascinating examination of one of the most pivotal eras in history. Over the course of 36 thought-provoking lectures, you’ll explore the extraordinary events of this period; meet the inventors, businessmen, and workers responsible for these new technologies and processes; and uncover the far-reaching impact of this incredible revolution.

We recognize the benefits of the Industrial Revolution in hindsight, but we should not forget that it created numerous hardships along the way. Its method of creative destruction shattered the livelihoods of rank-and-file workers; the new economy increased inequality and often exploited workers; and it was environmentally harmful. While Professor Allitt presents all sides of the story, he shows how the ultimate effect of industrial ingenuity has been overwhelmingly beneficial—and how the fruits of this revolution liberated people from many of the difficulties and restrictions of preindustrial life.

From the humble engineers who helped build the machines and standardize the tools that powered the Industrial Revolution to the outsized personalities of businessmen such as Thomas Edison, John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, and Henry Ford, and to the laborers and union leaders who challenged them, The Industrial Revolution presents a comprehensive—and complex—portrait of an exciting era; an era whose story is still being written throughout the world.

Discover the Technologies that Have Powered Our World

The technological achievements of the Industrial Revolution are nothing short of astonishing. Thanks to inventions such as the steam engine and processes such as large-scale iron smelting, industrial entrepreneurs were able to mechanize labor, which allowed for a host of new efficiencies, including

  • standardization,
  • interchangeable parts,
  • division of labor,
  • mass production, and
  • global distribution.

Professor Allitt introduces you to the science behind some of the most astounding inventions in modern history, including the spinning jenny, the incandescent light bulb, and the computer processor. He shows you how these inventions came about and traces their development. For instance, you’ll see how Thomas Savery’s “atmospheric engine” paved the way for Thomas Newcomen’s steam engine, which James Watt then improved for use in locomotives by George Stephenson. The Industrial Revolution also reveals what effects these technologies had on every aspect of human life.

  • Discover the mechanics behind coal mining and iron coking, and find out how these raw materials fueled the revolution.
  • Analyze the role the public and private sectors played in the development of national infrastructure.
  • Witness the building of railroads, canals, and bridges, and reflect on the importance of global transportation.
  • See how a couple of bicycle repairmen changed the world with a successful flight on a beach near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.
  • Delve into the brutalities of 20th-century warfare and ponder the double-edged sword of new technology.

Meet the Industrialists Who Capitalized on These Innovations

The story of the Industrial Revolution is the story of people, business, and technology. Who came up with these inventions? Who transformed them from ideas in a laboratory to necessities in the consumer market? What impact did these new technologies have in the business world? Professor Allitt answers these questions and more by giving you an inside look at the history of industrial innovation.

  • Examine how British shipyards created a model for future manufacturing.
  • Find out who standardized the nuts and bolts that made industrial machines possible.
  • Uncover the story of some of the world’s most well-known businesses in recent history: Bayer, Ford, American Steel, Xerox, and others.
  • Learn the secrets of John D. Rockefeller’s monopoly business tactics with Standard Oil.
  • Trace the rivalry between Thomas Edison and George Westinghouse, and meet the other scientists and inventors responsible for harnessing electricity.

You’ll explore the lives of engineers, inventors, architects, and designers, such as Abraham Darby, Henry Bessemer, Gustave Eiffel, and Eli Whitney—the great individuals responsible for changing the world. You’ll also discover how the Industrial Revolution affected more than just manufacturing; it inspired thinkers in a diverse array of other fields.

  • Meet economists such as Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus,and David Ricardo, who sought to describe the new capitalist paradigm.
  • Consider how industrialization influenced the ideas of political thinkers such as John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, and Friedrich Engels.
  • See what literary writers—including William Wordsworth, Charles Dickens, Thomas Carlyle, and Harriet Beecher Stowe—had to say about the Industrial Revolution.
  • Reflect on the information age and the transition from mechanized labor to mechanized knowledge.

Immerse Yourself in the Challenges of Ordinary Workers

While the impact of the Industrial Revolution has been overwhelmingly beneficial, it did come with a cost. Workers saw their old livelihoods disappear and faced the often bleak challenges of boredom, noisy work environments, greedy management, dangerous tasks, and more in the factory jobs that replaced them.

Professor Allitt guides you through the world of guilds and unions, workhouses and factories to show you what it was like for those unfortunate people who lost their livelihoods to new inventions and suffered the health consequences of unsafe work conditions. You’ll see how the division of labor and the fear of industrial espionage led to the “de-skilling of labor,” where line workers knew little about the entire process of the work they performed.

After learning about the conditions that inspired Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels to write their famous manifesto, you’ll survey the history of labor upheavals. You’ll meet figures such as Eugene Debs and learn the story of the Great Railroad Strike, the Haymarket Square Riot, the Ludlow Massacre, and more. Then find out how businesses responded—or attempted to prevent—such occurrences by creating a system of paternalism.

Finally, you’ll look at the environmental impact of the Industrial Revolution: the soot and smog of London, the polluted rivers, the fear of nuclear fallout, and the new threats posed to the atmosphere. You’ll also consider how businesses and political activists have confronted—and in many cases solved—the environmental challenges of the past and laid the groundwork for a cleaner future.

Get a Masterful Presentation of a Complex Story

In The Industrial Revolution, Professor Allitt combines his skills as a rich storyteller and his expertise as a historian with the masterful scholarship and illuminating imagery from the Smithsonian to provide compelling insights about the period. Allitt has a true appreciation for the complexity of the Industrial Revolution, highlighting both the good and the bad.

In the end, Professor Allitt is refreshingly optimistic about the possibilities of human ingenuity. In his words, the Industrial Revolution was “one of the two or three most important changes in the entire history of the world.” It has enhanced wealth, health, security, longevity, and comfort. What’s more, he says, “Industrialization does not appear to be slackening.” The story may not be over, but this course will leave you with a new appreciation for the amazing human achievements all around us.

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36 lectures
 |  30 minutes each
  • 1
    Industrialization Is Good for You
    Step into the story of one of the greatest periods in history. Although there is much to dislike about industrializationóincluding the loss of traditional ways of life, increased economic inequality, and environmental problemsówe should nevertheless be grateful for the Industrial Revolution. Investigate why in this opening lecture. x
  • 2
    Why Was Britain First?
    Start at the beginning in the British Isles, where relative political stability, sophisticated financial institutions, colonial trade, a rising population of workers, and a class of scientists, thinkers, and entrepreneurs willing to experiment with innovation all contributed to the birth of the Industrial Revolution. x
  • 3
    The Agricultural Revolution
    In Britain in the 18th century, new agricultural methods came into being, freeing up thousands of workers to move into manufacturing work. Take a look at some of these changes to agriculture, including different uses of the land, the introduction of new crops, and the early mechanization of farmingóall of which increased productivity. x
  • 4
    Cities and Manufacturing Traditions
    Traverse the country to see where industry took off, starting with a detailed look at the advantages and dangers of life in London. Then shift your attention to provincial cities and towns, where industrialists had to combat the guild system of labor, alcohol in the workplace, and workers who preferred the older, slower pace of life. x
  • 5
    The Royal Shipyards
    Explore the world of 18th-century shipyards, where the large-scale organization of work, materials, logistics, and complex construction would provide a blueprint for later factory-era industrialization. Find out how ships were made and what challenges shipbuilders facedóincluding fires, rot and decay, and logistical infrastructure. x
  • 6
    The Textile Industry
    Turn from the conditions that made the Industrial Revolution possible to the actual process of industrialization that began in the textile business. After surveying the work of spinning and weaving textiles, you learn about several key inventors and their innovations, including the flying shuttle, the spinning jenny, and the cotton gin. x
  • 7
    Coal Mining-Powering the Revolution
    Rising demand for coal and improvements in mining technology transformed coal mining into a large-scale capitalist enterprise. Dive into one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, see what problems miners had to overcome, and examine some of the solutions. Learn about steam engines, safety lamps, ventilation, and more. x
  • 8
    Iron-Coking and Puddling
    Along with coal, iron was one of the most important raw materials for the Industrial Revolution. After reviewing the history of iron, you study how to produce pig iron and forge wrought iron. Then you meet many of the key innovators who improved the process of bringing higher-quality iron into a growing market. x
  • 9
    Wedgwood and the Pottery Business
    Meet Josiah Wedgwood, whose pottery is among the most famous in the world. Thanks to his innovations in pottery-making technique and his division and ìde-skillingî of labor in his factories, he turned his familyís cottage industry into an immense, lucrative manufacturing phenomenon. x
  • 10
    Building Britain's Canals
    Transportation became critically important as new industries emerged. Find out how canal builders connected major cities by water, which greatly enhanced the countryís internal communications and allowed for the transportation of goods over long distances at relatively low cost. Look at the methods of building a canal and several key routes. x
  • 11
    Steam Technology and the First Railways
    The invention of the steam engine was a major turning point for industry. Meet the engineers and businessmen who developed and improved the engines and locomotives that would drive the British economy in the 19th century. Key figures include James Watt, Matthew Boulton, John ìIron-Madî Wilkinson, and George Stephenson. x
  • 12
    The Railway Revolution
    See how British companies privately financed and built a national railroad system, and consider what it meant for the nationís future. In addition to enabling faster communications, economic stimulus, and a boost to employment, the railroads affected the world of architecture, inspired the building of towns, and created a managerial class in the workforce. x
  • 13
    Isambard Kingdom Brunel-Master Engineer
    One of the great railway builders, Isambard Kingdom Brunel designed some of the nationís most magnificent suspension bridges, as well as tunnel entrances and railway stations. Witness him then turning his attention to the world of shipbuilding, where he pioneered the production of ocean-going steamships. x
  • 14
    The Machine-Tool Makers
    Where would the worldís machines be without the tools with which to build and service them? We seldom think of the humble nuts and bolts that hold our machines together, but someone had to create and standardize them. Find out about that process and reflect on the importanceóand impactóof industrial tools and their makers. x
  • 15
    The Worker's-Eye View
    Step away from the machines and consider the human side of the Industrial Revolution. This lecture shows you how ordinary laborers struggled for autonomy and how they were especially vulnerable to fluctuations in the business cycle. Grapple with the powerful moral objections to capitalism, which were articulated most famously by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. x
  • 16
    Poets, Novelists, and Factories
    Survey a wealth of 19th-century British literature, from poets such as William Wordsworth to novelists such as Charles Dickens and Elizabeth Gaskell. These works of literature offer a unique perspective on the Industrial Revolution, from evocative descriptions of the new technology to scathing indictments of the emerging labor system. x
  • 17
    How Industry Changed Politics
    As industrialists in the 18th and 19th centuries became wealthy, they were able to gain political power and influence national policy. Delve into the debates over free trade and the political regulation of industry. Then look at some of the eraís efforts at political reform and several notable acts of Parliament. x
  • 18
    Dismal Science-The Economists
    The effects of the Industrial Revolution can be felt in every realmóperhaps none so starkly as the field of economics. Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, David Ricardo, and others analyzed the causes and effects of industrialization and put forth the theories of capitalism that still underlie economics today. x
  • 19
    American Pioneers-Whitney and Lowell
    Shift your attention from Britain to the United States, where a class of mobile and educated entrepreneurs stood poised to build an industrial economy. This lecture introduces you to the world of American manufacturing. Learn about Francis Cabot Lowell and Eli Whitney, early innovators in the U.S. textile industry. x
  • 20
    Steamboats and Factories in America
    Continue your study of American industrialization with a look at the steamships, canals, and railways that opened up the great continent. Then turn to a series of great inventions in the 19th century, including the McCormick reaper, the John Deere steel plow, the telegraph, and the Colt revolver. x
  • 21
    Why Europe Started Late
    Great Britain may have started the revolution, but other nations soon followedóand they had the advantage of learning from Britainís trials and errors. Reflect on why the rest of Europe lagged behind in the Industrial Revolution, and take a look at what efforts Belgium, France, and Germany took to catch up. x
  • 22
    Bismarck, De Lesseps, and Eiffel
    After the unification of Germany in 1871, the nation industrialized rapidly. Thanks to a sophisticated educational system that emphasized science, German industries excelled at manufacturing chemicals, electrical equipment, and more. After witnessing the rise in German output, turn to several key innovations in France. x
  • 23
    John D. Rockefeller and Standard Oil
    Learn the history of one of the most successful companies in American history. As oil became one of the worldís most lucrative industries, John D. Rockefeller seized opportunities and built a monopoly with Standard Oil. Consider his questionable business tactics and the antitrust regulation they inspired. x
  • 24
    Andrew Carnegie and American Steel
    Meet Andrew Carnegie, the American steel magnate who was a fanatic for business discipline, efficiency, record keeping, and technological modernization. See how he drove his competitors out of business as the demand for steel railways and bridges rose. Find out how he organized and diversified his business. x
  • 25
    American Industrial Labor
    The American belief in upward mobility and its heterogeneous workforce constrained the union labor movement. Nevertheless, many strikes and protests did occur in response to industrialization. Experience the Great Railroad Strike, the Haymarket Square riot, and other important events in the history of American labor. x
  • 26
    Anglo-American Contrasts
    Compare Britain and the United States in the 19th century to see what forces caused Britain to lose its competitive edge in the Industrial Revolution. While labor unions and fewer raw materials put Britain at a disadvantage, the real difference lay in each nationís attitude toward work, leisure, and social class. x
  • 27
    Electric Shocks and Surprises
    We take electricity for granted today, but in the 19th century it was a sensation. Review the science behind electrical technology, from Ben Franklin and Alessandro Volta to Michael Faraday and Samuel Morse. Then learn about the rivalry between Thomas Edisonís direct current and George Westinghouseís alternating current. x
  • 28
    Mass-Producing Bicycles and Cars
    Interchangeable parts and mass production took the Industrial Revolution to a new level. Beginning with the bicycle industry in the 1870s and continuing through the rise of automobiles in the 20th century, this lecture shows how mechanized transportation not only changed the world for consumersóit also transformed the business of factory labor. x
  • 29
    Taking Flight-The Dream Becomes Reality
    Experience the birth of aviation when two bicycle repairmen from Ohio took off from a beach near Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Discover what experiments in flight preceded the Wright brothersóincluding lighter-than-air zeppelinsóand look at the effect aviation had in the years leading up to World War I. x
  • 30
    Industrial Warfare, 1914-1918
    Despite its myriad benefits on our world today, industrialization is also responsible for some of the 20th-centuryís most horrific carnage. Planes, tanks, and chemical weaponry have all played a role in global warfare. Meet the players of the First World War and explore the role played by the new military-industrial-political system. x
  • 31
    Expansion and the Great Depression
    Marxists fully expected the overthrow of capitalism in the United States or Great Britain. Why did that revolution never come to pass? Immerse yourself in the interwar years, when governments, managers, and workers alike grappled with the psychology of capitalism and the forces of creative destruction. x
  • 32
    Mass Production Wins World War II
    Reflect on how industry and technology contributed to the phenomenal destructiveness of World War II and helped the Allies win the war. With the Soviet Unionís mass-produced tanks and aircraft and U.S. and British bombers and special weaponry, the Allies were well prepared to defeat the industrially weakened Germans. x
  • 33
    The Information Revolution
    Unpack the history of computers, from early calculating machines and cash registers to transistors and integrated circuits. Professor Allitt shows you the political and economic effects of the information age. Who are the winners and losers in the information age? Have we entered a ìpost-industrialî society? x
  • 34
    Asian Tigers-The New Industrialized Nations
    Since World War II, Japan, China, and other Asian nations have emerged as industrial powerhouses. Follow Japan as it gradually built a reputation for making dependable, low-priced goods. Then shift your attention to China and see how it has achieved rapid economic growth in recent decades. Conclude with an examination of modern-day India. x
  • 35
    Environmental Paradoxes
    One key threat from industry is the negative effect on the environment. Examine how businesses and governments have responded to threats such as air and water pollution, oil spills, nuclear fallout, overpopulation, resource exhaustion, and climate change. Find out what solutions government regulation and the free market have to offer. x
  • 36
    The Benign Transformation
    Conclude your course with some final thoughts about the impact of the Industrial Revolution. Professor Allitt asks whether the revolution is over and if we will continue to benefit from new technological and societal advances. Take stock of everything youíve learned and explore what the future may hold. x

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Your professor

Patrick N. Allitt

About Your Professor

Patrick N. Allitt, Ph.D.
Emory University
Dr. Patrick N. Allitt is Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University, where he has taught since 1988. The holder of a doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Allitt-an Oxford University graduate-has also taught American religious history at Harvard Divinity School, where he was a Henry Luce Postdoctoral Fellow. He was the Director of Emory College's Center for Teaching...
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Reviews

The Industrial Revolution is rated 4.7 out of 5 by 52.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Course Our previous favorite course out of our 50 courses was the Italian Renaissance by Professor Bartlett. But this course on the Industrial Revolution now wins with us hands down. The material is fascinating and so well presented by an excellent teacher and well produced video. Perhaps we're a bit biased in our love of history which makes this our all-time favorite, a real educational eye-opener. What matters a lot here is the time and effort spent on explaining the context of the events presented and the description of the variety of background factors that contributed to the rather abrupt revolution in technology followed by huge social and economic changes. The subtle key factor was Britain's progress in protecting ownership of inventions with advancing patent laws that acted as a catalyst in the technological developments that made up the "revolution".
Date published: 2016-07-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Triumph of Science and Engineering This course is extremely wide-ranging in its topics. I learned about agricultural innovations and improvements. as well as the obvious mechanical inventions. It is excellent on the social and political dimensions of industrialization. The international comparisons were also fascinating. My only quibble is with the lecture 27, "Electric Shocks and Surprises." The Professor indicates that railroad refrigerator cars were converted from ice to electrical refrigeration, as homes adopted electrical refrigerators. In fact, through the 1950s, I witnessed mile-long trains of iced refrigerator cars stopping at the Pacific Fruit Express 70-car icing platform in Tucson to be re-iced. They carried fruit and produce from the Imperial Valley and Yuma to Eastern markets, as the lecture indicates. Later, the cars were cooled by diesel mechanical refrigeration, but never electricity.
Date published: 2016-06-15
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The Industrial Revoluton I have trouble with this course, because it includes captions along the bottom of the screen for the hard-of-hearing, which I don't seem to be able to eliminate. Since Dr., Allitt (a favorite professor for me) is also suddenly required to walk up and down, instead of standing at a lectern, it gets 'busy' and I have a hard time concentrating. Is there, in fact, a way to eliminate the captions, since my hearing is still reasonably OK? Thank you for asking! Elaine Good
Date published: 2016-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fantastic Course! This course raises important issues on history and political economy. Each lecture is well thought through. The earlier lectures are more challenging simply because we are more distant from the past. I thought the course was well paced, very interesting, and pertinent to every day life. I would recommend this course to friends. This is a great reference if you have children. Children naturally asked about how things came to be. This course answers that question in practical terms.
Date published: 2016-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Many Dimensions of Industrialization I purchased the audio version of this course and listened while driving—by far, my most preferred mode of consuming Great Courses content. For this reason, I’d like to thank TGC and Professor Allitt for continuing to organize and produce courses that are suitable for audio delivery. I recognize that this format inevitably causes some compromise in the quality of the video version of the course (because, for example, the professor cannot make explicit references to photographs and other graphical images); yet this compromise is, in my view, more than justified by the significantly greater user-friendliness of the audio version. Professor Allitt is a superb presenter—articulate, expressive, and sincere. His delivery is well organized and well integrated, with frequent cross-references that help the listener discern and understand big-picture themes and relationships between topics. The course is well-organized and comprehensive. As an engineering professor, I found the scientific and technical content of the lectures to be accurate and expertly presented--with the level of instruction appropriate for a general audience. I found it particularly interesting (as implied by Professor Allitt’s inclusion of such topics as information technology and the Asian Tigers) that the Industrial Revolution continues to the present day. I was also surprised and quite pleased by Professor Allitt’s strong advocacy of industrialization as a force for improving the human condition over the past three centuries. Including this as a major overarching theme was courageous, given that many will disagree. And Professor Allitt supported this position convincingly—giving appropriate attention to such adverse effects as environmental damage and the exploitation of workers, but effectively placing these issues into the broader context of the substantial improvements in human quality of life that are attributable to industrialization. Overall, this is a wonderful course. I will return to it many times, and I am confident that Professor Allitt’s ideas will find their way into my own teaching as well.
Date published: 2016-04-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from a fine course with a few striking flaws This lively and entertaining survey of the Industrial Revolution closely follows the development and spread of industrial manufacturing in Britain and follows it over the Atlantic to the United States in a series of engaging and well-presented lectures. Professor Allitt is a fine presenter who frames history in a compelling, fun way, and I found the series extremely useful on the whole. I would have liked more on industrialization outside of his primary area of focus, especially in Europe - I found it kind of odd that he spent almost no time reviewing industrialization on the continent. I feel compelled to note two areas where I strongly felt that his lectures were off base. I normally wouldn't single out individual points, but these matters struck me as so off the the mark, I feel compelled to point them out. First, in his lecture on the information revolution, Professor Allitt goes into several biographical facts about Alan Turing, going so far as to note that the was an avid long distance runner, but does not mention that he was homosexual, or that he was savagely persecuted for his orientation after World War II, despite his incalculable contribution to the war effort, and to humanity as a whole. For a historian to pass silently over this ignominious episode borders on obscene. Second, Professor Allitt's presentation of climate change is severely misinformed, and it he's going to teach an issue of such importance, it behooves him to really learn the basic facts. He describes the "controversy" as if the only evidence for climate change - or even the main evidence - is nothing more than a simple correlation between a rise in global temperatures and the emission of greenhouse gases. This is simply false, as is his characterization of the issue as though it's basically a 50/50 split in the scientific community. I would characterize these points as serious flaws, which is why I felt compelled to call them out, but be that as it may, the course as a whole was, for me, a strong success. Like the best of the courses, it was equally engaging and informative, and I would certainly try another course by Professor Allitt in the future.
Date published: 2016-04-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from This (uneven) course still has its strenghts This is a tough course to review. On the one hand, I really liked the professor's presentation, and feel like he did an admirable job covering a lot of very complicated ground. On the other hand, besides the fact that each of his lectures dealt with "industrialization" by looking at the effect of industrialization on a number of particular industries, I did not feel as though there was a common thread running through the lectures and tying them all together. For instance, as I marched through the course, I felt like I was being told "Okay, now let me tell you about shipbuilding" (lecture 5), "Okay, now let me tell you about pottery" (lecture 9), "Okay, now it is time to discuss railways" (lectures 11 and 12), and so on and so forth. Along the way, I learned some really neat things about, for example, the oil industry, the bicycle industry, and the automotive industry, but I never felt that there was a cohesive thesis showing the reader/listener what large forces, theories, or concepts were driving the phenomenal changes taking place. Had he done so, this would have easily been a 5-star course, but without such a common thread, it felt like I was listening to a bunch of independent mini-courses loosely linked together under the broad umbrella of "industrialization." If you are looking for good and entertaining information about a number of industries that really got going during the period of industrialization presented by a gifted and likable lecturer, then this course will probably meet your needs. If, however, you are looking for a course that focuses less on the particular industries and more on a broader explanation of the forces responsible for how/why the industrial revolution happened, this course may not be for you. Grade: B+
Date published: 2016-02-22
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Industrial Revolution Worst purchase from your catalog. What's the use of presenting the course on DVD if you're not going to use it to the fullest? The research behind the course is out-dated.
Date published: 2016-01-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Essential For Understanding Modern History When studying history one normally thinks of it being driven by individuals, events, or great historical forces. This superbly organized and delivered course demonstrates how the inventions within the last two and a half centuries have significantly altered the course of history and determined the winners and losers as well as the rise and fall of nations. In addition to the nuts and bolts of the inventions, the importance of the individuals, such as Carnegie and Ford, who actually had ideas that they put into production and continued to improve is stressed. The rise of the Industrial Revolution in Britain and its subsequent emulation by Germany and the United States in the 19th century with the United States finally surpassing all others in the 20th century is a fascinating story. The importance of industrial production in the USA as essential to victory in two world wars is detailed. The rise of the Asian countries in the waning years of the 20th century and continuing into the new millennium ends the narrative. Professor Allitt has a captivating delivery style and always has interesting anecdotes about inventions, people and events. Although there is a definite timeline to the course, one can easily watch or listen to selected topics such as railroads, ships, energy as topics in themselves. Don't miss this course if your have any interest at all in the modern world.
Date published: 2016-01-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Apologist Most of this course was very interesting until the last lecture. He says "many scientists" believe in Global Warming. How about 97%???? Is this many or the overwhelming majority. He then goes off on the history of climate change which is another apology ignoring the facts of human and fossil fuel action. He did this in the history of religion in America as well when in the last lecture he went off on abortion which did not fit the topic.
Date published: 2015-12-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2015-11-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Fantastic Course I have a large library of courses from the Great Courses, and this is absolutely one of the best ever. The prof is superb, the material he covers is well selected, and his presentation is superb. He reveals a special relationship to the subject matter and his manner of teaching is perfectly suited to this topic. This is one of the few courses I have been through more than once, it is that good. My highest recommendation.
Date published: 2015-11-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2015-10-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Summary of the Industrial Revolution This is another excellent course by Professor Allitt and I highly recommend it. Professor Allitt portrays both the positive side and the negative side of the industrial revolution. Also Professor Allitt give examples where attempts in improvements for one community or country resulted in unintended consequences to their neighbors. This course is rich with supportive information such as statistics, graphs and pictures. I would presume that much of this material was available for this course from the partnership with the Smithsonian.
Date published: 2015-08-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from thought-provoking and worthwhile Patrick Allitt might be my favorite Teaching Company / Great Courses professor, and this might be my favorite of his courses--and possibly my favorite course over all. As a disclaimer (or self-endorsement...?), I am a university professor and I teach modern British and European history. (I buy these courses as something of a “busman’s holiday.”) I often teach various aspects of industrialization, and I wondered when Professor Allitt would start and finish the course, how he would deploy his 36 lectures, and so on. He did a great job. Often I find that, even for topics that really interest me, individual lectures seem weak or out of place, and I’m nearly always relieved when (esp. longer) courses are over. (I generally do listen again, mind you.) The balance and content for this one were exceptionally conceived. Each one had a place, built on previous material, laid the groundwork for what was ahead, and--for the first time ever--I was genuinely disappointed when No. 36 wound up. I always listened to the Great Courses, and have never watched a video. I was worried up front I might miss something with this particular course. I probably did, but I wasn’t aware of it. It works perfectly well in an audio-only format.
Date published: 2015-07-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Trip Worth taking Professor Allitt's course on Industrialization is a trip worth taking surpassing even the exciting voyage through the Rise and Fall of the British Empire. Professor Allitt uses a march of facts technique that risks being boring. However, he executes the technique deftly. He enlivens the what, where and when with fascinating details about how and why also. For example his lecture on early coal mining is full of details about the hardships and dangers and how some of them were resolved. The introductory chapter differs from the course in general in that he argues wonderfully and comprehensively about the positive nature of industrialization. This is one of the best introductory lectures I have experienced within the very high standards of the Great Courses. Even with this positive starting perspective the course doesn't shy from the negatives of the process of industrialization. So what's the final verdict? Professor Allitt claims that a poor man today is richer than royalty some hundreds of years ago. There's lots of room to debate that statement but I tend to agree. Courses like this don't make things clear but they give your lots to think about. In the midst of the information revolution that's very timely.
Date published: 2015-07-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Comprehensive Look at Industry and Innovation Dr. Allitt's presentations are always a job for me to see. He has organized the subject matter in such a way that the student can understand how humanity developed technology to the levels we have today. There are many valuable illustrations and videos to illustrate the professor's major points. The course is wonderful because it is a hybrid history/ technology journey. I highly recommend this wonderful course.
Date published: 2015-06-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A centuries-long overview of industry in the West As with many Great Courses, this one fills in the blanks of the sketchy history we learned back in high school and college. We learn how the industrial revolution started, why it flourished when it did, how it spread around the world, and how it has affected society. Dr. Allitt is clearly gung-ho for Western Civilization, but he is not afraid to look at the negative effects of the development of industry. I have taken several of Dr. Allitt’s courses in audio format, but this was my first video course. His presentation is very natural and engaging. There were many illustrations on screen, including photographs (or drawings) of key people, places, and inventions, but I felt that there could have been a lot more. There seemed to be many missed opportunities for video enhancement. One of my favorite things about Professor Allitt’s teaching is his ability to bring in quotes from books and periodicals of the historical period, to give us a better glimpse into how contemporary people viewed these events. The course book was fairly sketchy and lacked the more detailed appendices that characterized older courses, but that seems to be a trend in recent productions.
Date published: 2015-04-05
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Unsure about this course I am in the middle of this course, and have learned a lot of new information or at least brought things back to conscious memory. Two major problems I have with the course are (1) why it is advertised in association with the Smithsonian, and (2) where are all the potential graphics that should be included from the vast Smithsonian collections. Dr. Allitt certainly knows the material and is great at reading the cue cards, but the DVD version is almost pointless when there are so few photos or simulations of important technological breakthroughs. Dr. Allitt's almost constant pacing around the studio set to read from one set of cue cards after another is not the reason I bought the DVD. I was expecting much more than a lecture; I was expecting visual input! The course has great content but is not up to the expectations one has when buying a DVD set.
Date published: 2015-03-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Six stars! Dr. Allitt is so fantastic, that i can listen anything he teaches. Who else can fill this strange topic on the rusty Industrial revolution with poetry and dry English humor. This course change my perspective on everything mechanical starting with railroads. Can we have more of incredible Patrick Allitt? Please!
Date published: 2015-03-20
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very good, but... This course covers the history of the industrial revolution from about 1700 in Great Britain up to the present. The 18 lectures at the beginning (and one or two later ones) on Great Britain are very informative. The 8 or so lectures on the US are also very good. Things speed up after about 1920, and the coverage of computers and electronic technology is superficial. There is no discussion of radio or television. Allitt is not an economic historian, or an expert on technology, and at points I wished he had presented more material on these subjects. For example, he does not much discuss how various inventions were made or how the improved machines worked. More use of graphics would have helped. (Ressler's superb course on ancient technology is much better on this score.) Also, Allitt's discussion of the environmental impact of technology in Lecture 35 is troubling. He seems to be a global warming skeptic.
Date published: 2015-02-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent review of the subject Having just finished the DVD series I can say i have learned a lot. The material is presented mainly in chronological order, starting in Britain in the early 1700's with advances in agriculture, then shipbuilding, textiles, coal mining, pottery and steam engines. Then on to canal building, followed by railways in the 1830's which rapidly made canals redundant. Canals in particular were mostly new to me; I never understood exactly how they were used but learned that a horse could only pull one ton of goods over the terrible roads of the day but could pull 40 tons loaded into a barge on a canal. That made a lot of sense before trains existed and there was a lot of canal building in the UK from 1780 to 1830 (but less so in the US). Disc 3 moves on to iron and steel bridge building, machine tools and social/political considerations of industrialization. Disc 4 moves to other countries: the US and Europe and the US oil and steel booms. Disc 5 deals with labor relations and the development of electricity, automobile mass production and aviation as well as WW I. Finally, disc 6 covers the great depression, WW 2, computers (briefly), the rise of Asia and the environment. Some reviewers of this course have written of a pro-industrial bias on the part of Prof Allitt. While this has some credence, I dont feel like this is a big issue and I did not note any significant political bias. The only exception would be that I felt he was more skeptical of climate change than the scientific evidence would support. Some also have noted Prof Allitt is somewhat of a dry speaker which is true but I still found the course very entertaining. Overall, I would highly recommend this course if you have any interest in how technology and our modern society have evolved over the last 300 years.
Date published: 2015-02-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lacks graphics and description of the technology I have enjoyed Prof Allitt's other courses, and this one too. Others have talked about positive aspects of the course, but there is a significant shortcoming: This is a social science course and not a technical one. There are very few explanations of how innovations actually worked, and drawings don't show much. For example, instead of showing the inside of a working mill museum, there is a snapshot of the outside of the building. Other than this, the course is informative, charming, and optimistic.
Date published: 2015-01-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A well organized explantion of the subject These 36 lectures which were factually comprehensive, explained the origins and phases of the Industrial clearly and distinctly. The professor's presentation was straightforward in that he did not rely on metaphors, jokes or tonal variations for making his points. In other words his lecture style is dry. Some people seem not to like that - I do, His illustrations - I got the CD- aided me in understanding some of the mechanisms of the steam engine, trains and other devices developed during the Industrial Revolution. His discussion of impacts upon the lives of ordinary people was also informative.
Date published: 2015-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Industrial Revolution I am only half way through this course and I am truly amazed. As an engineer I thought I was reasonably well educated on the industrial revolution. Boy was I wrong! Not only does Professor Allitt clearly explain the major mechanical and processes aspects but he goes into details on the people involved, the economic effects, the impact on the political sphere, the impact on the general population, and so on. His presentation skills are also excellent. I watch one lecture almost every day and look forward to the next one with eager anticipation.
Date published: 2015-01-14
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Romanticizing the Industrial Revolution This course has an overwhelming bias in favor of the positive effects of the Industrial Revolution. Lecturer Patrick N. Allitt begins chronologically with the earliest inventions in Great Britain (Newcomen's steam engine, Arkwright's water frame, Wedgwood's earthenware, Darby's coke method of smelting iron) and proceeds forward to the present. While the lectures are engaging and include abundant details, the professor always finds a way to spin a positive result out of the inventions and inventors. But he fails to examine the topic objectively, and he never explores in depth some of the most essential questions about the history of the industrial age. • Have we have used our technology responsibly and managed our precious natural resources over the past two centuries? • Do the benefits of industry come with a price tag that may not be foreseen at the original time of the inventions? • Are there limitations to the concept of “progress”? The answers to these questions elude Professor Allitt because his focus is on the benefits elicited from technology. A Lifelong Learner with the username of Horacepoet wrote the following perceptive comment about Professor Allitt’s lectures on the Industrial Revolution on the forum’s thread for the second edition of the History of the United States series: “He [Professor Allitt] often interjected value judgments….For example, he extols the business exploits of Carnegie and Rockefeller and their importance to business, but ignores how these men, like many other industrialists, exploited labor, supported crushing strikers, harming the environment, advocating low wages and so on. While one can argue [that] these were the conditions of the day, at least mention them so as to provide a balanced approach.” To his credit, Professor Allitt does at least mention the unsavory practices of “robber barons” like Carnegie and Rockefeller in the newer course on the Industrial Revolution. Still, Horacepoet offers a spot-on commentary about the personal “value judgments” of the lecturer and the lack of a “balanced” appraisal of the history of the industrial age. Throughout the lectures, the downside of the Industrial Revolution is minimalized. While Professor Allitt provides a perfunctory plot summary of Charles Dickens’s "Hard Times," the human dimension of Dickens's concerns and his moral indignation at the abuses apparent in the British workhouses are never addressed by the professor. In other lectures, the critics of industrialization (Ida Tarbell, Herman Melville, Upton Sinclair, Rachel Carson, Paul Ehrlich) are identified, but downplayed by the speaker. Bartleby the Scrivener is portrayed by the author Melville as being at the effect of a dehumanizing, repetitive work routine. But the character’s dilemma is casually shrugged off by Professor Allitt while in the real world today, we are surrounded by Bartlebys. There could easily be a complementary thirty-six lecture series with another historian arguing the exact opposite point of view apparent in each of Professor Allitt's presentations. The strength of this course is the lecturer’s broad panorama of inventions and his selection of readings from primary sources. But in the video version of the course, it was disappointing that the producers chose not to include onscreen text for the lengthy quotes. The only helpful feature of the DVD/streamed format was an occasional photograph or computer graphic image. The video version of this course was under-produced and appeared to be rushed through the final editing process in order to meet a deadline. In accordance with the Great Courses’ trend to eliminate important educational features of the Course Guidebooks, the booklet that accompanied this course included only outlines and a bibliography. The lecturer mentions an enormous number of names. A selection of brief biographical profiles in the printed guidebook would have enhanced the learning experience. Because Professor Allitt skips around to different countries and periods, a timeline would have been useful. In numerous instances on this forum, customers have decried the decline in quality of the Course Guidebooks over the past five years. It is now clear that our suggestions have not been taken seriously by the upper management of the Great Courses company. Despite its shortcomings, I still recommend this course for the vitality of its subject matter—an expansive outline of the modern technocratic world, spanning the eighteenth century to the present day. Professor Allitt is especially effective in his brief synopses of the inventors, industrialists, scientists, and captains of industry. But the personal value judgments and the strenuous effort of the professor to interpret each topic with an emphasis on a positive outcome are significant limitations of the lectures. Is this degree of historical bias and the absence of objectivity typical of professional historians? Here is what one noted professor wrote on this topic: “A historian’s principal concern should be to describe and explain, while keeping his or her opinions as far in the background as possible.” The author of the preceding statement is none other than Patrick N. Allitt from the opening lecture of his Great Course entitled “The Conservative Tradition.” But for the Industrial Revolution series, his opening lecture is called "Industrialization is Good for You," and his closing presentation is entitled "The Benign Transformation." In between, the professor steps away from the historian’s goal of merely “describing” and “explaining” to offer constant reminders about how nearly every problem confronted by the world is solvable through science. There was certainly no evidence of attempting to rein in personal opinions in this course! For every new technological innovation, there has been a trade-off in which we pay a price for our creature comforts. This lecture series lacks a balanced approach to a complex topic where the controversial issues require rigorous debate. As an exercise in critical thinking, this course affords students a demonstration in how history can be a creative construct of the historian. Through the skillful use of words and turn of the phrase, the historical record may be slanted in order to demonstrate a subjective thesis about our past. Course Grade: C
Date published: 2015-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from
Date published: 2015-01-10
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Thorough Analysis of Topic I have enjoyed this course and its analysis of the Industrial Revolution. The conclusions that the changes were always positive for the majority of people who experienced them is questionable and the experiences of women was given short shrift but otherwise, I would recommend it.
Date published: 2015-01-04
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Really enjoyable Professor Allitt's presentation of the flow of industrialization was fascinating. He is well spoken and easy to listen to. The content explored some of the edges and niches of history that I had missed over the years. I throughtly enjoyed the content, and so the 5 star review. If I had a difficulty it was in his treatment of the union movement. It was unfailingly presented as an obstacle to Progress (as it may have been) rather than a protection for the workers against the poor treatment at the hands of the industrialists. All said, it was a great class. I'm recommending it to my friends and searching out his other titles.
Date published: 2014-12-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Stick to History I enjoyed this course until Lecture 35, where Prof. Allitt strayed from history into science, specifically, global warming, and went off the rails. Here is a point-by-point rebuttal from the printed Guidebook. PA “Some scientists have concluded that there is a cause-and-effect relationship [between rising CO2 and temperature].” Fact: Virtually all publishing scientists conclude the concomitant rise represents cause and effect. PA: “Some scientists predict that the polar ice caps will melt, sea levels will rise, and inhabited lands near the equator will become uninhabitable.” Fact: Again, virtually all scientists make that prediction unless global warming is checked. (The “some scientists” trope is the equivalent of stating: “Some historians say the Battle of Hastings took place in 1066.” It’s not untrue, but highly misleading.) PA: [Scientists] “argue that warming from 1900 to 1940 was steeper than between the 1980s and 1990s.” Fact: Warming since 1980 has been much steeper than between 1900 and 1940. I have never heard a scientist argue otherwise. PA: “From 1950 to 1970, there was an alarm about global cooling.” Fact: This is one of the most timeworn myths of the skeptics. The vast majority of climate scientists in the 1970s did not predict global cooling. Professor Allitt should stick to history and if he does, I will enjoy his next set of lectures.
Date published: 2014-11-17
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