For better and worse, modern Britain is faced with the legacy of her past as the first industrial nation. Tracing the development of society since the mid-eighteenth century, this book sets in long-term perspective the problems and possibilities that confront social scientists, historians, and all who are interested in current affairs. The second edition of this deservedly popular account follows its predecessor in considering seven broad, interrelated themes: the environment; people; class; poverty and welfare; life and leisure; religion; and education. But it differs in its extended chronology (the considerable changes in society between 1985 and 1997 are now part of the picture) and in its incorporation of new currents in historical writing on matters such as the language of class, the position of women and secularization. Treatment of topics is genuinely British, insofar as the state of research permits, though the different histories of England, Scotland, and Wales are fully recognised.