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Reviews

  • The Lunar Society is delighted to welcome the publication and promote the dissemination of this major work on the development and advancement of progressive thought in the United States of America. We are, in particular, appreciative of the role Benjamin Franklin and the Franklin circle played in the development of the 18th Century Lunar Society and in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution in the United Kingdom. The Lunar Society was a small number of individuals, who helped change the face of Great Britain, Europe and the World. The development of The Lunar Society in Birmingham was contemporaneous with the ideological changes that occurred during the American Revolution. Franklin fitted the Lunar model as a polymath, scientist (especially in physics and electricity), inventor, activist, politician and diplomat.

    The quoted generic definition of a republican, as “one who fights for the improvement of the people and their conditions of life”, resonates with the aims of the historical and modern Lunar Society and is not a reference to any political party. Franklin had a significant presence in Britain between 1757 and 1775 and a major influence as one of America’s founding fathers – “The first American”.

    We are very pleased that the book coincides with the 250th anniversary, in 2021, of Franklin’s stay in the Midlands, the home of the Lunar Society, to whom in 1764 he introduced Dr William Small, co-founder of a playhouse, The Theatre Royal, and a major hospital, The General Hospital in Birmingham. Dr Small became a very significant member of The Lunar Society. He died and is buried in Birmingham.

    We are also delighted that Dr Malcolm Dick OBE, a noted local and international expert on the Lunar Society, has agreed to review the book for The Midlands History Society.

    Anton Chaitkin is an established expert and historian. Libraries are highly recommended to have his 1988 monograph, titled, “The Secret History of the Industrial Revolution” as well as this title.

    Chaitkin prefaces his review of Franklin, the Lunar Society, and related networks, with an essential point:

    “The secret to modern history is, that all the great breakthroughs in technology and living standards were deliberate projects for the improvement of humanity, guided by the principles of the American Declaration of Independence.” (from “Franklin’s Lunar Society and the Industrial Revolution,” by Marcia Merry Baker, 2003)

  • Fifty years ago, the Anglo-American establishment reversed the policies and principles on which America was founded, introducing globalism based on unfettered free trade. In this first volume, covering the 1750s to the 1850s, Anton Chaitkin looks at the strategists who created the American industrial revolution, arguing they did so to promote human progress rather than from a simple profit motive and that they encountered stiff opposition from the British empire and its American slave-plantation partners who feared industrialisation as a threat to their power. Not unexpectedly, this story is mainly about Americans but there is a very insightful chapter on how the British under Lord Shelburne developed a self-centred economic strategy in late 18th-century Ireland they would afterwards use against America and France. Thought-provoking and very relevant to our times.

  • Don’t think of this as American economics history. I never had any interest in economics, but I’ve always loved history, and this history book is a page-turner.

    Basing his history on primary sources, Chaitkin is a superb teacher, showing how capitalism driven by greed produced British colonialism and the slave trade, while capitalism guided by moral principle–aimed at the betterment of humankind worldwide–is the engine that made the United States the wealthiest, most productive nation in history.

    This book is easy to read because it’s not a story of competing philosophies but of competing individuals with very different loyalties. And it’s lean. Chaitkin packs it with first-person quotes from letters and other sources, fully documented. The footnotes, dovetailed into the bottom of the pages, are full of their own relevant content (don’t skip them!).

    What I enjoyed the most is the way he highlights the connections between people. Did anyone else know that Henry Clay was the ward of a collaborator of Benjamin Franklin’s, who (Clay) then taught law in Lexington, KY’s Transylvania University, and that one of his students was Robert Todd, Abraham Lincoln’s future father-in-law? This book similarly connects many people horizontally. But the story also runs vertically through the generations, like pushing tree roots through layers of American history, joining us to the bedrock of our founding fathers.

    Chaitkin has even gotten me interested in the economics! I highly recommend this volume, and I’m looking forward to Chaitkin publishing Volume 2.

  • This is the most important book I have ever read. A work of immense scholarship, while silent regarding our current plight, it points the United States (and the West) toward salvation. It does so by providing specific examples of how, and by whom the earlier United States coped with, and largely overcame, the forces of empire within.