Brad Delong remembered about economic history for the first time in a while and posted about Bob Allen’s book; well the post is mostly a quotation but I really liked the comments.
The Pivot of Global History: The Handoff from the First to the Second Industrial Revolution
Bob Allen of Oxford writes the smartest thing I have read in at least a year. The conclusion of Robert Allen (2009), The British Industrial Revolution in Global Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press: 9780521687850), p. 272 ff.:
I have argued that the famous inventions of the British Industrial Revolution were responses to Britain’s unique economic environment and would not have been developed anywhere else…. Buy why did those inventions matter?…. Weren’t there alternative paths to the twentieth century? These questions are closely related to another… asked by Mokyr: why didn’t the Industrial Revolution peter out after 1815?… [O]ne-shot rise[s] in productivity [before] did not translate into sustained economic growth. The nineteenth century was different–the First Industrial Revolution turned into Modern Economic Growth. Why? Mokyr’s answer… that scientific knowledge increased enough to allow continuous invention [is incomplete]….