I think that Tyler Cowen's first book club experiment has to be counted a success. Check out the comments on the latest post.
For example, Gregory Clark, the author of the book under discussion, writes,
As I thought about it I came to the conclusion that, given how little was happening in England institutionally in the run up to the IR [industrial revolution], and how little incentives changed in the IR, the process would only become explicable if
(1) The Industrial Revolution was really much more gradual than the conventional history assumes. Accidents, demography, etc all conspired to make 1800 seem like a much more sudden break than it was.
(2) Britain was less unique in this period than conventional histories assume. The IR was geographically also much more diffuse.
One of the big empirical contributions of the book is to try to make that case.
That made it possible that some kind of evolutionary development of the economy could explain the IR.
The comments of Gavin Kennedy are quite interesting.