Using extensive quantitative data, Burley provides a cultural analysis of the business community during the mid-nineteenth century. Because self-employment was so pervasive in Brantford, the impact of industrialization was particularly striking. Self-employed businessmen were forced to try to locate themselves in an emerging class system which often contradicted traditional Victorian social ideals of independence and manliness. Burley's exploration of the tensions behind these conflicting values - tensions both between myth and reality and within the bourgeois world view itself - is an important addition to the literature on business behaviour and Victorian cultural history. A Particular Condition in Life will be of interest to social, urban, and labour historians, sociologists, and those interested in the history of Ontario.