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Behemoth A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World by Joshua B. Freeman

Behemoth A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World


Behemoth A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World by Joshua B. Freeman

Factories, with their ingenious machinery and miraculous productivity, are celebrated as modern wonders of the world. Yet from William Blake's dark Satanic mills they have also fuelled our fears of the future. Telling the story of the factory, Joshua B. Freeman takes readers from the textile mills in England that powered the Industrial Revolution to the steel and car plants of twentieth-century America, Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, to today's behemoths making trainers, toys and iPhones in China and Vietnam. He traces arguments about factories and social progress through such critics and champions as Marx, Ford and Stalin. And he explores the representation of factories in the work of Margaret Bourke-White, Charlie Chaplin and Diego Rivera.


You may have no detailed knowledge of factories except that they can be converted into cool lofts. In that case, you'll learn much from historian Joshua Freeman. -- Jonathan Rose - The Wall Street Journal Fascinating... Freeman shows how factories have had an overwhelming influence on the way we work, think, move, play and fight. -- Scott W. Berg - The Washington Post Rich and ambitious... More than an economic history, or a chronicle of architectural feats and labor movements, Behemoth depicts a world in retreat that still looms large in the national imagination. -- Jennifer Szalai - The New York Times ... fascinating book... -- The New Statesman Freeman does an essential service by publicising the continuance of a system whose foundations rest on a banal evil. -- The Spectator ... Behemoth is a tour de force, a powerful liberal retelling of the factory narrative at a time of Trump and all he represents, when it badly needs to be retold. -- Times Higher Education Carefully researched and energetically written, Freeman's book takes in the first factories in Britain and New England, the great mills of late-Victorian Pennsylvania, the rise of Fordism in the 1920s, the world of the industrial Soviet Union and today's colossal factories in China and Vietnam. -- The Sunday Times Ireland Freeman has written a superb account... The author's sympathy, insight and exemplary anecdotes make this a marvellous book. -- The Guardian ... [Freeman] lay[s] out two centuries of factory production all over the world in ways that are accessible, cogent, occasionally riveting and thoroughly new. The history of large factories, as Freeman outlines it, is the history of the modern world and most everything we see, experience and touch. -- International New York Times An insightful history of giant factories... Mr Freeman rolls up his sleeves and delves into the nitty gritty of manufacturing. He successfully melds together those nuggets with social history, on the shop floor and beyond the factory walls, from union battles to worker exploitation and, in the case of Foxconn, suicides. -- The Economist

About the Author

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Book Info

Publication date

27th February 2018


Joshua B. Freeman

More books by Joshua B. Freeman
Author 'Like for Like'


WW Norton & Co


448 pages


Industrialisation & industrial history



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