The Most Powerful Idea in the World

The Most Powerful Idea in the World
William Rosen

One would have thought that the ability to clearly describe how a steam engine works would be an essential prerequisite for writing a popular account of the power and personalities behind the industrial revolution, but William Rosen disappoints in this and other regards. In tracking the course of what was arguably the most important development in human history since the domestication of crops in the Fertile Crescent, Rosen seeks to answer the question of why so much innovation occurred in the English-speaking world (answer: democracy and liberal capitalism provided the incentive to invent). It’s a vital story for our times, but one with a familiar thesis that is spread too thin here.