In the 1760s a group of amateur experimenters met and made friends in the Midlands.
Most came from humble families, all lived far from the centre of things, but they were young and their optimism was boundless: together they would change the world.
Among them were the ambitious toy-maker Matthew Boulton and his partner James Watt, of steam-engine fame; the potter Josiah Wedgewood; the larger-than-life Erasmus Darwin, physician, poet, inventor and theorist of evolution (a forerunner of his grandson Charles).
Later came Joseph Priestley, discoverer of oxygen and fighting radical.
With a small band of allies they formed the Lunar Society of Birmingham (so called because it met at each full moon) and kick-started the Industrial Revolution.
Blending science, art and commerce, the "Lunar Men" built canals, launched balloons, named plants, gases and minerals, changed the face of England and the china in its drawing rooms and plotted to revolutionize its soul.
This exhilarating account uncovers the friendships, political passions, love affairs, and love of knowledge (and power) that drove these extraordinary men. It echoes to the thud of pistons and the wheeze and snort of engines, and brings to life the tradesmen, artisans and tycoons who shaped and fired the modern age.
1DBK United Kingdom, Great Britain, 3JF c 1700 to c 1800, 3JH c 1800 to c 1900, BGH Biography: historical, political & military, HBJD1 British & Irish history, HBLL Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900, PDX History of science, PDZ Popular science
W 2002 James Tait Black Memorial Prize (Biography)
W 2003 Hessell-Tiltman Prize for History