JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post (An addition to the post on George Orwell and his descriptions of the working poor miners of England.)
Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) traveled to England to work for the English subsidiary of his family's textile business, settling into Manchester (and Salford) in with a keen and ravenous eye. He didn't have the eloquence of a George Orwell, but he had more than enough to capture the essence of what he saw and to see deeply into what he suspected; and what he saw of course was not very pretty so far as the condition of the working poor was concerned.
So when he was in his early twenties, Engels researched and wrote about what he saw in the Industrial Revolution in the great smoking city of Manchester, grown from a city of 79,000 in 1811 to nearly 300,000 in forty years, seeing for himself the class struggles that he (and his new friend Karl Marx) would write about in Das Capital just four years later. What came of his work in Manchester was The Condition of the Working Class in England. Dedicated to the people of England, it would not be available in English for another 43 years (at which point the "in 1844" was added to the end of the book's title). [The images above and below of Manchester show the city ca. 1840, when the life expectancy was around 30.] He probably would have been very surprised to see that the revolution he wrote about didn't take place in England; and doubly so to see that the home of the revolution was Russia.
Working Conditions is seen as one of Engels' greatest achievements, both for his insight and reporting and of course for what the work would contribute to Capital. [The full text is found here.]
"But these are not all the evils which descend upon the head of the coal-miner. In the whole British Empire there is no occupation in which a man may meet his end in so many diverse ways as in this one. The coal-mine is the scene of a multitude of the most terrifying calamities, and these come directly from the selfishness of the bourgeoisie. The hydrocarbon gas which develops so freely in these mines, forms, when combined with atmospheric air, an explosive which takes fire upon coming into contact with a flame, and kills every one within its reach..."