John Walton is one of Britain's foremost social historians. He is able to explain the past with great clarity and insight, using memorable turns of phrase to convey an impression of how people lived and worked. He has brought all of his talents to bear in this, his latest book, a general overview of the British Isles during perhaps the most interesting and varied period of its history. Between 1750 and 1914 Britain was at the forefront of industrialisation, the world's first global superpower with what became the world's largest empire. Britons pioneered, invented, and believed that they led the world in rational progress. Yet the enormous economic and social changes of the period could also bring dislocation, poverty, pollution, noise and danger. Professor Walton ably describes the many different strands of experience during this turbulent century and a half of progress as well as the growing pains of what had become the world's first industrial nation.