** Behemoth by Joshua Freeman

Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World is not an exciting book and some parts are downright tedious, but it is interesting, retracing the history of how manufacturing moved away from craft and got organized in larger and larger compounds starting with the Industrial Revolution. The book covers much more than the evolution of the buildings themselves, discussing how to feed and house the workers, labor laws, the stealing of manufacturing secrets (Lowell is not just a textile town, but the namesake of an accomplished industrial spy, Frances Cabot Lowell), and the development of Taylorism and other systematic approaches to productivity — as well as art and literature describing, extolling, or exposing industrialization.

The illustrations of various work environment are particularly interesting and occasionally terrifying. The last chapters, covering Chinese factories in contemporary times, seem weaker (read Factory Girls and Country Driving instead).

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Filed under Non fiction

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