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  • Published: 1 July 2010
  • ISBN: 9781407090917
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 400

The Most Powerful Idea in the World

A Story of Steam, Industry and Invention

An enthralling and accessible history of the invention which transformed the world: steam power.

'The most important invention in the whole of the Industrial Revolution was invention itself.'

Those words are at the heart of this remarkable book - a history of the Industrial Revolution and the steam engine, as well as an account of how inventors first came to own and profit from their ideas and how invention itself springs forth from logic and imagination.

Rocket. It was the fortuitously named train that inaugurated steam locomotion in 1829, jump-starting two centuries of mass transportation. As William Rosen reveals, it was the product of centuries of scientific and industrial discovery. From inventor Heron of Alexandria in AD 60 to James Watt, the physicist whose 'separate condenser' was central to the development of steam power - all those who made possible the long ride towards the Industrial Revolution are brought to life.

But crucial to their contributions are other characters whose concepts allowed their invention to flourish - John Locke and intellectual property; Edward Coke and patents. Along the way, Rosen takes us deep into the human mind, explaining how 'eureka' moments occur - when the brain is most relaxed.

  • Published: 1 July 2010
  • ISBN: 9781407090917
  • Imprint: Vintage Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 400

About the author

William Rosen

William Rosen was a senior executive at Macmillan and Simon & Schuster publishing houses for more than twenty-five years, working with authors including Bernard Lewis, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Philip Craig and Tim Clayton, Marina Benjamin, and Robert Lacey. He lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

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Praise for The Most Powerful Idea in the World

An enjoyable read... Wonderfully eclectic

The Economist

As a piston-driven primer not only to the processes of thought, labour and collaborative generosity of the fathers of steam, this book runs along a new track like - well, like a Rocket

Iain Finlayson, The Times

Infectiously enthusiastic, all encompassing investigation of steam power and the men that drove the industrial revolution... A particularly fascinating account of the tangled relationship between iron, coal and steam

James McConnachie, The Sunday Times

Intriguing, witty account of the birth of steam power

Robin McKie, Observer

Its scope and lively intelligence make it the best kind of popular account. Anyone who has ever wondered over Britain's exceptional contribution to the modern world should read it

Ian Jack, Financial Times

Rosen is skilled at hooking small, local phenomena into a narrative of global sweep and significance