From the medieval farm implements used by the first colonists to the invisible links of the Internet, the history of technology in America is a history of society as well. Arguing that "the tools and processes we use are a part of our lives, not simply instruments of our purpose," historian Carroll Pursell analyzes technology's impact on the lives of women and men, on their work, politics, and social relationships―and how, in turn, people influence technological development.
Pursell shows how both the idea of progress and the mechanical means to harness the forces of nature developed and changed as they were brought from the Old World to the New. He describes the ways in which American industrial and agricultural technology began to take on a distinctive shape as it adapted and extended the technical base of the industrial revolution. He discusses the innovation of an American system of manufactures and the mechanization of agriculture; new systems of mining, lumbering, and farming, which helped conquer and define the West; and the technologies that shaped the rise of cities.
In the second edition of The Machine in America, Pursell brings this classic history up to date with a revised chapter on war technology and new discussions on information technology, globalization, and the environment.
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Carroll Pursell is professor emeritus of history at Case Western Reserve University and an adjunct professor of modern history at Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. He is a former president of the Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) and the International Committee for the History of Technology (ICOHTEC).Review:
" The Machine in America's modest preface fails to acknowledge the magnitude of the task undertaken by Carroll Pursell... This book succeeds in achieving Pursell's goals."(Robert Martello Isis)
"Certainly one of the best introductions to the history of American technology... Highly recommended."(Choice)
"What differentiates this book and makes it especially appealing is its coverage of agricultural and environmental topics. These subjects are often overlooked by historians of technology, and Pursell's inclusion of them represents an important step toward integrating these fields."(Nicholas Buchanan Agricultural History)
" The Machine in America has been enduring for multiple reasons, including its solid prose, excellent illustrations and captions, use of current themes (gender, race, class), focus on how society constructs technology, and a critical view of technology as something that historically has been used in America, all too often, to reinforce the powerful rather than help the weak."(Industrial Archaeology)
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