Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World Audiobook, by Joshua B. Freeman Play Audiobook Sample

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

Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World Audiobook, by Joshua B. Freeman Play Audiobook Sample
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Read By: Stephen Bowlby Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Listen Time: at 1.0x Speed 9.17 hours at 1.5x Speed 6.88 hours at 2.0x Speed Release Date: February 2018 Format: Unabridged Audiobook ISBN: 9781538494141

Quick Stats About this Audiobook

Total Audiobook Chapters:


Longest Chapter Length:

32:59 minutes

Shortest Chapter Length:

03:35 minutes

Average Chapter Length:

13:17 minutes

Audiobooks by this Author:


Other Audiobooks Written by Joshua B. Freeman: > View All...

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Publisher Description

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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“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 


  • “Narrator Stephen Bowlby approaches this audiobook as a straightforward work of history, using his deep voice to simply tell the story rather than to put his personal imprint on it.”

    — AudioFile
  • “[A remarkable book…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
  • “[A] rich and ambitious history…Now that factory work and stable, blue-collar jobs are such potent sources of nostalgia, it can be hard to recall how truly disruptive the manufacturing age was. Freeman does a superb job of reminding us.”

    — New York Times
  • “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.”

    — Wall Street Journal
  • “Fascinating…Shows how factories have had an overwhelming influence on the way we work, think, move, play, and fight.”

    — Washington Post
  • “A global tour of three centuries, from English textile mills to Detroit steel plants to Chinese iPhone factories.”

    — Newsday
  • “A lively chronicle of the factory [that] delves into the…social history on the shop floor and beyond the factory walls.”

    — Economist (London)
  • “Freeman uses the history of the factory as a way to re-examine how workers are treated worldwide.”

    — Pacific Standard
  • “‘We live in a factory-made world,’ yet most consumers know little about these places or the experiences of those who work in them…An excellent foundation for understanding how their possessions are made, as well as how the factory system affects society.”

    — Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • “An ambitious, sweeping, and well-researched history…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


  • An bestseller
  • A New York Times Pick of 5 New Books We Recommend This Week
  • Shortlisted for the Cundill Prize in Historical Literature

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About Joshua B. Freeman

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

About Stephen Bowlby

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.