This review is an analysis of Prasannan Parthasarathi’s explanation of the economic divergence in the long eighteenth century between Britain and India as presented in his recent book. It focuses on the question of why Britain industrialized first instead of India. Parthasarathi’s claim that Britain’s industrialization was a response to two challenges that were absent in India—global competition with other textile producers, in this case India, and a wood shortage—is critically discussed, as is his claim that the state played a fundamental role in the rise of Britain’s industry. The review ends with expressing doubts about Parthasarathi’s thesis that there would not have existed a unique scientific and technological culture in Britain or more broadly Europe.


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pp. 639-664
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