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The Most Powerful Idea in the World

New or Used: $21.50
Some days change the world. Monday, July 25, 1698 was one of them. In London, an anonymous clerk at the Great Seal Patent Office granted patent number 356, A new Invention for Raiseing of Water and occasioning Motion to all Sorts of Mill Work by the Impellent Force of Fire . Steam power was born, and with it the Industrial Revolution. But why did steam power happen when it did? And why was it Great Britain and her onetime North American colonies that staked out a technical and commercial lead over the rest of the world which they would never really relinquish? With The Most Powerful Idea in the World, Bill Rosen combines narrative history with cutting-edge scientific theory to offer a simple, controversial answer- Britain s unique patent laws were the vital catalyst. In this remarkable book, we discover that only in Britain did the law enshrine the notion that people should profit from their ideas, and so was born the first generation in human history in which the desire to invent was prompted not simply by the quest for knowledge but by a drive for financial glory. Rosen takes us on a journey from the factories of the Black Country to Pennsylvanian iron foundries and Peruvian
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An enthralling and accessible history of the invention which transformed the world: steam power.

About the Author

William Rosen was a senior executive at Macmillan and Simon & Schuster publishing houses for more than twenty-five years, working with authors including Bernard Lewis, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Philip Craig and Tim Clayton, Marina Benjamin, and Robert Lacey. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.


"As a piston-driven primer not only to the processes of thought, labour and collaborative generosity of the fathers of steam, this book runs along a new track like - well, like a Rocket" -- Iain Finlayson The Times "Its scope and lively intelligence make it the best kind of popular account. Anyone who has ever wondered over Britain's exceptional contribution to the modern world should read it" -- Ian Jack Financial Times "Intriguing, witty account of the birth of steam power" -- Robin McKie Observer "Infectiously enthusiastic, all encompassing investigation of steam power and the men that drove the industrial revolution... A particularly fascinating account of the tangled relationship between iron, coal and steam" -- James McConnachie The Sunday Times "An enjoyable read... Wonderfully eclectic" The Economist

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