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Extended Audio Sample Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World Audiobook, by Joshua Freeman Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Joshua Freeman Narrator: Stephen Bowlby Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2018 ISBN: 9781538494110
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A sweeping, global history of the rise of the factory and its effects on society

We live in a factory-made world: modern life is built on three centuries of advances in factory production, efficiency, and technology. But giant factories have also fueled our fears about the future since their beginnings, when William Blake called them “dark Satanic mills.” Many factories that operated over the last two centuries―such as Homestead, River Rouge, and Foxconn―were known for the labor exploitation and class warfare they engendered, not to mention the environmental devastation caused by factory production from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution up to today.

In a major work of scholarship that is also wonderfully accessible, celebrated historian Joshua B. Freeman tells the story of the factory and examines how it has reflected both our dreams and our nightmares of industrialization and social change. He whisks readers from the textile mills in England that powered the Industrial Revolution and the factory towns of New England to the colossal steel and car plants of twentieth-century America, Eastern Europe, and the Soviet Union and on to today’s behemoths making sneakers, toys, and cellphones in China and Vietnam.

The giant factory, Freeman shows, led a revolution that transformed human life and the environment. He traces arguments about factories and social progress through such critics and champions as Marx and Engels, Charles Dickens, Alexander Hamilton, Henry Ford, and Joseph Stalin. He chronicles protests against standard industry practices from unions and workers’ rights groups that led to shortened workdays, child labor laws, protection for organized labor, and much more.

In Behemoth, Freeman also explores how factories became objects of great wonder that both inspired and horrified artists and writers in their time. He examines representations of factories in the work of Charles Sheeler, Margaret Bourke-White, Charlie Chaplin, Diego Rivera, and Edward Burtynsky.

Behemoth tells the grand story of global industry from the Industrial Revolution to the present. It is a magisterial work on factories and the people whose labor made them run. And it offers a piercing perspective on how factories have shaped our societies and the challenges we face now.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Ranging from the early industrial revolution in England to the factories in modern-day China…this remarkable book traces the history of the giant factory and the people—capital, labor, consumers, and fascinated observers—whose lives it shaped. If you want to know where the world we live in came from, this is a good place to start.”

    Eric Foner, historian and New York Times bestselling author

  • “Freeman…notes that ‘we live in a factory-made world,’ yet most consumers know little about these places or the experiences of those who work in them…This wide-ranging book offers readers an excellent foundation for understanding how their possessions are made, as well as how the factory system affects society.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “Freeman has provided an ambitious, sweeping, and well-researched history of factories, which remains accessible and relevant to general readers.”

    Library Journal

  • “While Freeman underscores the invaluable benefits factories have contributed to civilization, his sobering dissection of their negative environmental impact shows how much room there is for improvement.”

    Booklist

  • “We are all implicated in the world of the giant factory, but students of economic history and geopolitics in particular will find much of value here.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • “Freeman’s tour de force reminds us that, to understand the world we live in, it is not enough to think about the symbolic meaning of consumption; we need to grapple with how all the stuff around us is manufactured. Taking us on a whirlwind tour of giant factories from Lancashire to Detroit, from Wolfsburg to Nova Huta, from Mahalla al-Kubra to Shenzhen, Freeman charts the rise and spread of this peculiar form of organizing production. Behemoth is an extraordinary book that offers countless insights into the global history of the past two centuries.”

    Sven Beckert, Bancroft Prize-winning author of Empire of Cotton

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About the Author

Joshua B. Freeman is a professor of history at Queens College and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

About the Narrator

Stephen Bowlby has worked as a professional voice actor for more than forty years. His experience spans animation, character work, commercials, and narration. He has read numerous audiobooks throughout his career, including titles by Harold Robbins, Stuart M. Kaminsky, John Sculley, William P. McGivern, and Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz.