Nicholas Carr’s The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, From Edison To Google is a look at two major changes in how business behaved. It is part success story, and part warning, and it does a great job of both.
The first fifth of the book is about the process of moving from a world powered largely by muscles or water, and lit only by fire, to industry powered and lit by electrical utilities. No single invention — the electric generator, electric motors, electric lights or power transmission lines — was the key to this second industrial revolution. Rather, it was the construction of systems of generating, delivering and using electricity that led to a complete transformation of industrial production, and laid the foundation (with Hollerith and Watson) for the next great change: digital computing.