The Industrial Revolution has sometimes been regarded as a catastrophe which desecrated the English landscape and brought social oppression and appalling physical hardship to the workers. In Ashton's classic account, however, it is presented as an important and beneficial mark of progress. In spite of destructive wars and a rapid growth of population, the material living standards of most of the British people improved, and the technical innovations not only brought economic rewards but also provoked greater intellectual ingenuity. Lucidly argued and authoritative, this book places the phenomenon of the Industrial Revolution in a stimulating perspective. A new preface by Pat Hudson surveys recent research in the areas focused on by Ashton and a completely updated bibliography ensures that this book will continue to be of value to modern readers for many years to come.