The Industrial Revolution

In partnership with
Professor Patrick N. Allitt, Ph.D.
Emory University
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Course No. 8950
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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
 |  Average 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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The Industrial Revolution is rated 4.6 out of 5 by 83.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A marvelous learning program By immersing oneself in this course of study, the end result can only be a far greater appreciation for how humankind has moved from barely more than a subsistence level of existence 250 years ago to today's significantly higher living standards (for most, though certainly not yet for all). There is a wealth of information presented, but it is easily absorbed and well explained along the way.
Date published: 2019-11-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Another Great Allitt Class Professor Allitt has become one of my favorite Great Courses professors. He always does an excellent job of explaining issues and making history fun and interesting. Granted, I'm a huge history buff so it doesn't take a lot to keep me happy, but Prof. Allitt goes above and beyond what most professors do. This course does a very good job of explaining how the Industrial Revolution, started, spread, and ultimately changed society.
Date published: 2019-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating Fascinating material that was well presented. It covers a transformation event in human history
Date published: 2019-11-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A pleasure to learn from The instructor, Patrick Allitt is a pleasure to learn from. I have purchased several of his courses and will be taking more of his classes. His presentational style is easy to listen to, he is clear, a great communicator and his content is always interesting. I highly recommend this series on the Industrial Revolution to anyone who has in interest in history. I also am listening to his series on the American West, another great series of professor Allitt's.
Date published: 2019-07-29
Rated 3 out of 5 by from The lectures were long on philosophy, sociology, social history and political statements, but short on solid tech and just how the tech actually worked. Still good mind you, but less than I had hoped for.
Date published: 2019-07-11
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Compelling, but with Reservations I ordered this course back in April of 2019. I've listened to it on and off since then. It is very comprehensive with Dr. Allitt going into great detail of the particulars of the Industrial Revolution. I'm usually excited about these types of courses because for 30 years plus I have been a Reliability Engineer for several companies. This one somehow lacks the exceptionalism that I expected. I have no direct criticism of the material but it appears to lose my interest after a bit. Personally, I believe Dr. Allitt's presentation is the culprit. If a proper English accent is your cup of tea, you will most likely be very satisfied with this course. I, on the other hand, get fidgety after listening for more than half an hour to an Englishman speak. I'll finish the course someday but it will take me longer than most I suppose.
Date published: 2019-07-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Industrial Revolution This is a thorough review of the early, middle and late periods of the “Revolution “. I found it both interesting an insightful.
Date published: 2019-06-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Clear concise exploration of subject I am barely half way though the course yet but, i am thoroughly enjoying it’s solid coverage of the subject. Professor Allitt’s explanations are comprehensive and fascinating . He manages to build atmosphere and wonderment .The societal changes were horrific- from open fields to urban squalor.. i was not unfamiliar with this subject but absolutely delighted with it’s coverage. I grewup in. england’s north west as a prewar baby and this course explained so much that i was unaware of ...Many many thanks TLC and Professor Allitt. I would have liked easier access to the Bibliography . Could the table of Content perhaps be modified to tap on?
Date published: 2019-05-11
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Ok I returned it after the 8th session and exchanged it for another course. It was not as interesting as I thought it would be .
Date published: 2019-04-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Entertaining and educational This is the third Patrick Allitt course that my wife and I have enjoyed. We are great fans of England and have traveled there many times. We now have quite a few more places to visit as a result of this course. The presentation is a great blend of technical details (just enough) and entertainment. The professor often includes a personal experience from his childhood in England which makes some of the history come closer. Very highly recommended!
Date published: 2019-03-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fascinating history from a different perspective This is an informative, interesting course all the way through. It covers a lot of history I’ve studied before, but from a different and highly integrative viewpoint that is refreshing and stimulating. Professor Allitt is articulate, courtly, and a pleasure to watch and listen to. The lecture on Josiah Wedgwood and the pottery business was especially good. Allitt presents a pro-industry stance that he justifies well in this course—how the net effect of industrialization, despite all its downsides (worker safety, environment, etc), has been overwhelmingly positive on the status of humanity.
Date published: 2019-01-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Sweeping, interesting, and fun This course is quite extensive, and each of the 36 lectures is a pleasure to hear. Most people who know history will know about the inventions of the steam engine, steam ship, railroads, airplane, and steel-making. Prof Allitt covered each of these developments well and with lots of interesting observations; I learned a lot. The course also covers steps toward industrialization and mass production that are less heralded but equally important and interesting. These include the development of modern machine tools, the pottery industry, and even rope-making (it is amazing to me that a British ship-of-the-line needed as much as 20 miles of rope). I loved the mix in this course of the grand sweep of progress coupled with so many interesting details about people and inventions. I’ve taken and enjoyed each of Prof Allitt’s other TC courses (except one which I bought but haven’t had time to listen to yet). He’s an excellent lecturer, who I find very pleasant to listen to. He also comes across as having a great sense of humor. I hope he keeps creating courses for the TC.
Date published: 2018-11-17
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Very Downbeat I realize this is a troubled time in Italian history, but I thought this was a particularly downbeat series . I’m not sure that it had to be told that way. Lots of sighs and lots of references to the Italian “Peninchula“, which got pretty old by the end of the course. I’m listening to the audio version so maybe it’s not as bad with the video version.
Date published: 2018-10-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Master Teacher Professor Allitt has the uncanny ability to make what in other hands might be a prosaic subject vibrantly interesting and (almost) poetic.
Date published: 2018-09-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Each Lecture Like a Good Campfire Story I always enjoy courses by Professor Patrick N. Allitt and The Industrial Revolution is no exception. Because the professor is from England, when he starts quoting from what some Englishman wrote several hundred years ago, it is like sitting around a campfire and listening to the person in history tell their story. The course is filled with lots of background on the people that made the industrial revolution possible and about the conditions that the workers endured. He quotes from a few rare accounts of what the working class had to say about their lives. The Industrial Revolution was a period of not only industrial innovation, but of great writers and philosophers. He covers their take on what was happening as well. A very good course that provides a lot of background information for the issues that grew out of this revolution and we still debate today.
Date published: 2018-08-29
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very interesting and informative This course is to be highly recommended. The lecturer is excellent and the material covers the birth of the Industrial Revolution in England to the present day, where the US plays the major role. It shows the path from a primary agricultural society to a modern day industrial society.
Date published: 2018-08-26
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great historian. Not so great on the science side Overall, an excellent course (as with his other course on the Conservative Tradition, which I devoured eagerly). But on the lecture on the environment, he makes the mistake of giving "false equivalence" to the evidence for and against anthropogenic climate change. He seems to have only a very cursory knowledge of it. For example on prehistoric temperature variations, he doesn't seem aware of Milankovitch cycles, which were one of the main causes, if not the main cause of the variations. And on 20th and 21st century variations, he seems unaware of the role of reflective aerosol dusts (such as from coal burning) that disturb the nice relationship between temperature rise and CO2 rise. He also seems enamored with Julian Simon's inane theory of infinite growth, saying that price signals indicate resource abundancy. True, but he shouldn't have just looked at copper prices, for which there are a lot of substitutes. He should've also looked at oil prices, for which there are currently few substitutes in the same cost range and utility range. All in all, he comes across as if he got all of his environmental info from Anthony Watts or Fox News. So I would ask Allit to please leave subjects such as this up to Professor Wolfson (another Great Courses lecturer), who has the proper scientific background.
Date published: 2018-08-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Detailed and thought provoking I listened to this right after I listened to (1) European Thought and Culture in the 19th Century and (2) Darwinian Revolution. Listening to all three of these back-to-back-to-back was perfect. The lecture series Industrial Revolution was very informative and expanding. I highly recommend it.
Date published: 2018-05-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Nine and a half stars A superb course that not only chronicles the development of technology since industrialization began in Great Britain, but also tells the story of how it changed lives and economies. As in his other courses, the professor adds color to his narration and analysis with quotes from literary luminaries such as Dickens, Defoe, Thackeray, Henry James, Forster, Stevenson, Blake, Wordsworth and Fitzgerald, as well as contemporaneous nonfiction observers such as the young Frederick Engels and George Orwell. This works extremely well, but even on his own he is vivid and entertaining as well as informative. His British accent was always amiable and easy to understand. The two historical points that made the most impression on me were (1)How difficult it was to create standardized parts for machines and (2)How the British class system held that country back in the later stages of industrialization, ultimately giving the lead to the U.S. Standout lessons were those on shipbuilding and on the career and influence of ceramic entrepreneur Josiah Wedgewood. Just two negatives from my point of view. First, he seems strongly anti-union, implying that on balance they have been more harmful than helpful. And second, he has a sunny-side-up perspective in which all the damage caused by industrialization doesn't matter that much in the light of its benefits. He also predicts that industrialization will continue to be beneficial for humanity. However, he doesn't seem to allow for the possibility that tyrants, oligarchs and corrupt regimes that put the rich in power can turn back the progress we've made and return us to a darker age, whether because of environmental ruin or a catastrophic divide between rich and poor.
Date published: 2017-11-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The End of Our Past This was a great course, illuminating the most important period in the history of humankind since the innovation of agriculture. I have one nit to pick: the treatment of the steam engine. In my opinion it was by far the most important innovation of the 1750-1850 period for two reasons. The first, discussed by Prof. Allitt, was its value in itself, enabling railroads, steamships, and providing new sources of power for manufacturing. The second reason for its importance was it was the first practical demonstration that heat could be turned into work: it began the transition from a world of muscle powered by oats and hay via the horse, to a vastly more capable mechanical world powered by coal, oil, and nuclear fission.
Date published: 2017-11-13
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Broad Review of Industrial History Professor Patrick Allitt has a vast knowledge of the history of industry. His conversational manner and relaxed style makes it easy to listen to, especially during stressful commutes. He presents both sides of the industrial revolution (labor and management) with the respect they deserve. I would recommend this course to anyone interested in this fascinating subject.
Date published: 2017-06-28
Rated 4 out of 5 by from interesting but too much a travelogue I enjoyed the course and learned stuff, but for me it seemed too much like a travelogue, with lots of advice about which displays/museums to visit, and somewhat less information about (for example) how machines worked than I would have wished. Perhaps part of my problem was that I had an audio version.
Date published: 2017-05-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course by a very gifted teacher I cannot say enough good things about Professor Allitt and this wonderful course on the Industrial Revolution. Briefly stated, the course goes into considerable depth, covering a wide range of topics (36 lectures) from the causes of the IR, the breakthroughs in technology, the great inventors and entrepreneurs, to the ongoing revolution nearer to the present. Allitt himself is simply exceptional. His style is spellbinding, relating "the facts" more like a story teller than like the somewhat dry manner assumed by most teachers and professors. This course is guaranteed to captivate anyone who has ever wanted to know more about the subject.
Date published: 2017-05-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The course was enriched by very good illustrations Professor Allitt presents his material in a calm and confident manner. He manages to put the Industrial Revolution within the context of the complicated times it took place. The course widened my horizon and understanding of the various forces that influenced the Revolution. I appreciate the scope and roots Professor Allitt gave this fascinating subject.
Date published: 2017-04-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Worth the Time The lectures are well constructed and nicely delivered. Enough detail to make the points. Focus is on UK and USA but not exclusively so. Good graphics in the video. The instructor is a native of UK but has made his career in the US and expresses a sense of continuity between the two industrial cultures.
Date published: 2017-04-01
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I bought this course about a month ago and am working my through it. I use these courses as a means to acquire context on a particular topic such as the industrial revolution in this case. Then I use is as a base for sort of a jumping off point into further reading/study on particular aspects I want to learn more about.
Date published: 2017-03-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best! We have been in the process of building our knowledge of Western history since the end of the Roman Empire, and picked up a hint of Prof. Allitt's interest in the industrial revolution from one of his other programs. That he is interested in this topic is clear from the get-go, and as one who once had an inclination toward staying economic history at the graduate level, I found this course to be superb. The professor has the knowledge, skills, and passion to do the topic justice. This is the best Great Courses program I have seen.
Date published: 2017-02-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent overview with some surprising choices This professor talks not only about predictable topics but about some unpredictable ones. For example, he notes that agriculture is one ot the areas that benefited from industrialization and that Wedgwood china is another area of development. Wellington boots were highly important to the success of Britain at Waterloo, and Paddington Bear has a story to tell. He spends some time on the controversial idea that industrialization is required to end poverty, and describes the first Earth Day without, unfortunately, mentioning that the participants left the area strewn with many tons of trash. The guidebook is excellent, and all around,I found this course to be splendid.
Date published: 2017-01-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding Prof does a superb job of both perspective and content; He reminds us that "The Industrial Revolution' is still in progress. Great work!
Date published: 2017-01-23
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A fair overview A good course with some very interesting facts. But rather dry and not spellbinding like so many other superb courses from TGC comapny. I would liked to have seen some parallels with modern times as we are now progressing through a new revolution. The information age. But more importantly the robotic era.
Date published: 2016-11-15
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