Empire of Guns

The Violent Making of the Industrial Revolution
Narrated by: Kirsten Potter, Priya Satia
Length: 17 hrs and 53 mins
Categories: History, European
4 out of 5 stars (13 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Named one of the best books of 2018 by the San Francisco Chronicle and Smithsonian Magazine

By a prize-winning young historian, an authoritative work that reframes the Industrial Revolution, the expansion of British empire, and emergence of industrial capitalism by presenting them as inextricable from the gun trade.

"A fascinating and important glimpse into how violence fueled the industrial revolution, Priya Satia's book stuns with deep scholarship and sparkling prose." (Siddhartha Mukherjee, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies)

We have long understood the Industrial Revolution as a triumphant story of innovation and technology. Empire of Guns, a rich and ambitious new book by award-winning historian Priya Satia, upends this conventional wisdom by placing war and Britain's prosperous gun trade at the heart of the Industrial Revolution and the state's imperial expansion.

Satia brings to life this bustling industrial society with the story of a scandal: Samuel Galton of Birmingham, one of Britain's most prominent gunmakers, has been condemned by his fellow Quakers, who argue that his profession violates the society's pacifist principles. In his fervent self-defense, Galton argues that the state's heavy reliance on industry for all of its war needs means that every member of the British industrial economy is implicated in Britain's near-constant state of war.

Empire of Guns uses the story of Galton and the gun trade, from Birmingham to the outermost edges of the British empire, to illuminate the nation's emergence as a global superpower, the roots of the state's role in economic development, and the origins of our era's debates about gun control and the "military-industrial complex" - that thorny partnership of government, the economy, and the military. Through Satia's eyes, we acquire a radically new understanding of this critical historical moment and all that followed from it.

Sweeping in its scope and entirely original in its approach, Empire of Guns is a masterful new work of history - a rigorous historical argument with a human story at its heart.

©2018 Priya Satia (P)2018 Penguin Audio

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Good text, annoying narration

Satia's work starts slowly but picks up intensity as it progresses. The thesis is that the Industrial Revolution came about from the stimulus and protection provided by massive government investment in war weaponry. Contrary to accepted Cold War "wisdom," it was not made by brilliant individuals unfettered by the State; this is anti-socialist spin.

It is a valid enough assertion, as she convincingly proves with reams of evidence. Merritt Roe Smith made the same claim in the 1970s in his Harpers Ferry and the New Technology, so while Satia's book is not entirely pathbreaking, she gives us another case study, with larger scope. She also goes further out on a limb than Smith by discussing the social and moral position of guns, then and now. This gets some 2nd Amendment people buggy, but she does not really make any radical gun-grabber pronouncements. (Methinks most of them did not read the book but responded to the introduction.) She asserts some common sense observations, that is it. For some American gunners, even those are not allowed, apparently.

My issue with this audiobook version is the narration. The woman doing it puts arbitrary emphasis on certain words that were not italicized in the text, which I found distracting. I understand that she wanted to add some emotion to a dry academic read, but in order to do this she had to choose for herself which words to emphasize. Sometimes I agreed with her, but other times no! It was distracting to hear this verbal underlining again and again. A good narrator disappears into the text like a veteran umpire at a baseball game, but not here. This one is a showboater who pumps her fist when she calls someone out. She guilds a perfectly good lily with her underlining and italicizing, as if we are not clever enough to figure out what is important for ourselves.

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Review: Empire of Guns

A history broken into three parts: a plethora of evidence that displays how the State's want for more land, the war that came of it, and the need for larger and larger number of guns to wage those wars helped create and drive the industrial revolution; how society historically viewed and used guns; the historic morality of gun ownership. Highly recommended.

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a comprehensive and complete historical narrative

despite being an advocate gun owner I concede that her points are all valid and her arguments are all logically sound. the Industrial Revolution at least in the British Empire wasn't that spurred on by the state sponsorship of this communal group project of perpetuating Warfare and imperialism throughout the world. photo fantastic and complete this is an outstanding book the amount of research she must have done for this is mind-boggling.