Margaret Jacob, Distinguished Professor of History, has published a new book, "The First Knowledge Economy: Human Capital and the European Economy, 1750-1850" (Cambridge University Press, 2014).
Jacob stresses the critical importance of knowledge of Europe's economic transformation between 1750 and 1850, first in Britain and then in selected parts of Northern and Western Europe. Since the Industrial Revolution, debate has raged about the sources of the new, sustained Western prosperity. This is a new history of economic development in which minds, books, lectures and education become central. Jacob shows how, armed with knowledge and know-how and inspired by the desire to get rich, entrepreneurs emerged within an industrial culture wedded to scientific knowledge and technology. She charts how, across a series of industries and nations, innovative engineers and entrepreneurs sought to make sense and a profit out of the world around them, transforming the economic destiny of Western Europe.
Jacob primarily studies the meaning and impact of the Newtonian synthesis on religion, political ideology, industrial development and cultural practices. She has worked extensively on Isaac Newton's immediate followers, freethinkers, freemasons and Dutch and French Newtonians. Jacob also has an active interest in British radicals and romantics of the 1790s, has commented on issues in the so-called "science wars" and has written on historical methods and practices.