From the acclaimed historian of global empire, the dramatic story of how steam power reshaped our cities and our seas, and forged a new world order
Steam power transformed our world, initiating the complex, resource-devouring industrial system the consequences of which we live with today. It revolutionized work and production, but also the ease and cost of movement over land and water. The result was to throw open vast areas of the world to the rampaging expansion of Europeans and Americans on a scale previously unimaginable.
Unlocking the World is the captivating history of the great port cities which emerged as the bridgeheads of this new steam-driven economy, reshaping not just the trade and industry of the regions around them but their culture and politics as well. They were the agents of what we now call 'globalization', but their impact and influence, and the reactions they provoked, were far from predictable. Nor were they immune to the great upheavals in world politics across the 'steam century'.
This book is global history at its very best. Packed with fascinating case histories (from New Orleans to Montreal, Bombay to Singapore, Calcutta to Shanghai), individual stories and original ideas, Darwin's book allows us, for better or worse, to see the modern age taking shape.
Striking ... The work underlines how the past 50 years' surge of globalisation has built on the previous wave that started nearly 200 years ago ... A compelling picture of the societies that drove steam globalisation. -- Robert Wright * Financial Times * In the great opening up of the world that is his subject, the port cities were the hinges ... an enjoyable synthesis of a large body of scholarship. * The Economist * A fine, important and original book ... wonderful. -- Paul Kennedy * Literary Review *