Even today, social scientists and historians continue to treat the Industrial Revolution as if it were the beginning of the end of civilization.
What the essays in this book do is show the opposite. It was in many ways the beginning of a new civilization that permitted a high standard of living for the mass of the population, and resulted in longer and healthier lives. It was not characterized by coercion and social devastation but rather increased freedom and individual choice.
Subsequent research by later scholars comfirmed the analysis you will find in these pages.
Hayek himself writes the long introduction. T.S. Ashton write on "The Treatment of Capitalism by Historians," L.M. Hacker exposes "The Anticapitalist Bias of American Historians," and Bertrand de Jouvenel covers "The Treatment of Capitalism by Continental Historians."
T.S. Ashton picks up the argument again with a detailed account of "The Standard of Life of the Workers in England, 1790-1830," and W.H. Hutt writes the essay for which he is most famous: "The Factory System of thee Early Ninetheenth Century."
I came across this book when I was looking for a first Hayek to read; but was feeling a bit worried that his full books might be overwhelming. However, I now feel inspired to dive in, having read his amazingly clear introduction. It is a true master that can explain something so simply and clearly that you can't imagine that you never knew it before! Ashton's two essays are especially remarkable, as well. I enjoyed his precision and his subtle humor. All of the essays were illuminating and promoted further thought. I also found de Jouvenal's essay very interesting, specifically on the essence of the struggle between the intellectuals and the "capitalists". Highly recommended, and easy to take in one section at a time.
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