Rather than try to unify the many distinct threads in this account, here are a few notes:

  • The emancipation of the serfs was one of the (or, as Evans argues, the single) most significant events of 19th-century European politics
  • The impact of “the year without a summer” continues to astound me every time I read about it
  • The British had a substantial first-mover advantage in the railway industry, and it was their engineers who ensured that 4.5-foot gauge became standard throughout Europe
  • There was no legal requirement to drive on a particular side of the road until 1835 in Britain, and as late as 1899 in Belgium (p. 314)
  • Energy consumption is a useful historical proxy for economic progress: in 1860 London used twice as much gas as the whole of Germany (p. 314)
  • The discussion of popular resistance to official weights and measures (p. 376) is evocative of James C. Scott, whose next book is due soon