Thursday, July 19, 2018

"Geography, Technology and the Flux of Opportunity"

Back when I wrote the first edition of The Many Lives and Deaths of James Bond I included in the appendix a brief essay discussing Britain's extraordinary industrial, imperial and military predominance at its nineteenth century peak, and its subsequent passing over the following hundred years. Basically what it came down to was the spread of industrialization as other nations increasingly consolidated. One result was larger-scale industrialized states, another was states which evolved a more sophisticated form of industrialization, and still another were states which combined both features, epitomized by the United States. The balance of economic power shifted in a hurry, the balance of military power with it. Meanwhile the declining acceptability of colonial rule, and the cost of two world wars, accelerated the unraveling of Britain's empire, but that economic change was first and foremost.

Given my historical and other interests I did much more reading and thinking about the issue, unavoidably rethinking what I wrote earlier (just why did others make a bigger success of the "Second" Industrial Revolution, for example?), and writing more. Initially I intended to produce a longer, better-grounded version of the piece in my appendix, later a few short pieces, but it eventually blew up into the paper I have just published through SSRN, "Geography, Technology and Opportunity: The Rise and Decline of British Economic Power" (the second revision of which is now up). About 74,000 words long it is less an appendix than a book in itself--which I suppose offers the same explanation in the end. With (I hope) more rigor, in detail and depth (unexpectedly I found myself coping with matters raging from the comparative phosphorous content of different iron ores to waterway-territory ratios in countries around the world to the finer points of the 1965 National Plan), but nonetheless, the same essential explanation.

If nothing else, I've done a fair job of convincing myself.

Review: Vanguard to Trident: British Naval Policy Since World War II, by Eric J. Grove
The Cult of Ian Fleming
Review: Trigger Mortis, by Anthony Horowitz
Just Out . . . (The Many Lives and Deaths of James Bond, 2nd edition)
Just Out. . . (James Bond's Evolution)
Just Out . . . (The Forgotten James Bond)

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