Synopses & Reviews
If all measures of human advancement in the last hundred centuries were plotted on a graph, they would show an almost perfectly flat line—until the eighteenth century, when the Industrial Revolution would cause the line to shoot straight up, beginning an almost uninterrupted march of progress.
In The Most Powerful Idea in the World, William Rosen tells the story of the men responsible for the Industrial Revolution and the machine that drove it—the steam engine. In the process he tackles the question that has obsessed historians ever since: What made eighteenth-century Britain such fertile soil for inventors? Rosen's answer focuses on a simple notion that had become enshrined in British law the century before: that people had the right to own and profit from their ideas.
The result was a period of frantic innovation revolving particularly around the promise of steam power. Rosen traces the steam engine's history from its early days as a clumsy but sturdy machine, to its coming-of-age driving the wheels of mills and factories, to its maturity as a transporter for people and freight by rail and by sea. Along the way we enter the minds of such inventors as Thomas Newcomen and James Watt; scientists, including Robert Boyle and Joseph Black; and philosophers John Locke and Adam Smith—all of whose insights, tenacity, and ideas transformed first a nation and then the world.
Rosen is a masterly storyteller with a keen eye for the "aha!" moments of invention and a gift for clear and entertaining explanations of science. The Most Powerful Idea in the World will appeal to anyone who is fascinated with history, science, and the hows and whys of innovation itself.
"The book has a crackling energy to it, often as riveting as it is educational." ---Los Angeles Times
"Rosen is a natural and playful story-teller, and his digressions both inform the narrative and lend it an eccentric and engaging rhythm." ---New York Times
Award-winning author William Rosen tells the story of the men responsible for the Industrial Revolution and the machine that drove it—the steam engine.
About the Author
William Rosen was an editor and publisher at Macmillan, Simon and Schuster, and the Free Press for more than twenty-five years. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey. Michael Prichard has played several thousand characters during his career. While he has been seen performing over one hundred of them in theater and film, Michael is primarily heard, having recorded well over five hundred full-length books. During his career as a one-man repertory company, he has recorded many series with running characters-including the complete Travis McGee adventures by John D. MacDonald and the complete Nero Wolfe mysteries by Rex Stout-as well as series by such masters as Mark Twain, John Cheever, and John Updike. His numerous awards and accolades include an Audie Award for Tears in the Darkness by Michael Norman and Elizabeth M. Norman and several AudioFile Earphones Awards, including for At All Costs by Sam Moses and In Nixon's Web by L. Patrick Gray III. Named a Top Ten Golden Voice by SmartMoney magazine, he holds an M.F.A. in theater from the University of Southern California. Michael appears regularly on the professional stage, including as a member of Ray Bradbury's Pandemonium Theatre Company, performing such great roles as Captain Beatty in Fahrenheit 451, which became the second-longest-running production in the Los Angeles area. Bradbury himself dubbed Michael "the finest Beatty in history."