Robert Allen (2011): Global Economic History: A Very Short Introduction (New York: Oxford), chapters 2 and 3 http://amzn.to/2iloEx6
Bob Allen has his own theory of what laid the foundations of the Industrial Revolution of 1750-1870. It is a smart theory. It is a good theory. It is a well-argued theory. It is an evidence-based theory. But it is a contested theory. Others, as smart as Allen, think it is wrong.
In this chapter Allen presents his theory.
He takes occasional swipes at other theories. Treat them more seriously than he does.
Allen's theory is, basically, that technological developments in ocean sailing and cannon produce maritime empires that encourage and dominate trade; that trade produces high wages in the imperial center; and thus it becomes, for probably the only time in history, profitable to develop the steam engine--if you also have a culture of mechanical engineers, really cheap coal, and excellent water transport. Thereafter what your engineers have learned from building the first generation of steam engines allows them to improve it and build other machines. And the Industrial Revolution is off and running. Try to grasp the whole theory as you read.