Synopses & Reviews
There has never been a history of America like Harold Evans's long-awaited They Made America
. With the verve and cogency that made his American Century
an acclaimed bestseller, Evans tells the epic story of the men and women who made America over two centuries. The workshop revolutionaries who made our world have never had the attention afforded the political revolutionaries who founded this nation. But it has been these innovators in small-town attics and on the Mississippi, in Silicon Valley and the wheat fields of Kansas, in a black woman's beauty parlor and a Dayton bicycle shop who set America on a course to attain a standard of living unprecedented in the history of the world.
The flourishing of America is the story of an inventive people with a mystic faith in technology, from the early settlers who devised windmills as a way of getting water on the Great Plains to the electronic whiz kids of the Internet. Innovation, practical inventiveness, is the main force behind America's preeminence. But there is more to this extraordinary history. Harold Evans traces how the innovators have time and time again proved to be democratizers, driven not by greed but by an ambition to be remembered. They translated the nation's political ideals into economic reality.
Yet many of these heroic contributors have been lost to history. Who fought and fought to make banking available to the common people? Who opened the world of international air travel to the masses? Whose Internet triumph was based on egalitarian ideals? Who put cheap electricity into everyone's homes and was pursued as a fugitive? Who gave everyman high-quality sound and was driven to suicide?
These innovators come forcefully to life in Evans's astonishing dramatic narratives and in more than five hundred unforgettable photographs and illustrations. We see the frontiersman John Fitch inspired by his near death at the hands of Indians to invent the first steamboat service; we see Orville and Wilbur Wright in their parlor hand-stitching the wings of their Flying Machine; we see Gary Kildall invent the operating system that will underpin Bill Gates's empire. Evans connects a hundred of these innovators, inventors, and entrepreneurs to the main thread of American history.
And crowning this essential work, Evans distills the greatest thinking about innovation into a feature called the Innovators' Toolbox influential gems that will inspire the thinking and hopes of those with ideas of their own. Thomas Edison urged the men in his lab to come up with practical things: "We can't be like those German professors who spend their whole lives studying the fuzz on a bee." They Made America is eminently practical but more than anything, it is history to inspire.
"Developed in tandem with a four-part PBS series to air in November, Evans's profusely illustrated and elegantly written book offers the same breadth and scope as his previous bestseller, The American Century. Evans, former president and publisher of Random House, profiles 70 of America's leading inventors, entrepreneurs and innovators, some better known than others. Along with such obvious choices as Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and the Wright brothers, Evans profiles Lewis Tappan (an abolitionist who dreamed up the idea of credit ratings), Gen. Georges Doriot (pioneer of venture capital) and Joan Ganz Cooney, of the Children's Television Workshop. From A.P. Giannini (father of consumer banking) to Ida Rosenthal (the Maidenform Bra tycoon), Evans shows innovation as both a product of and a contributor to the grand apparatus of American society. And his spotlight is on the true American elite: the aristocracy of strategic visionaries, creative risk takers and entrepreneurial adventurers thriving in their natural environment, the free-market democracy of the United States. Evans doesn't neglect the latest generation of innovators, among them Google's Larry Page and Sergey Brin. He concludes with a note of caution, pointing out the nation's recent loss of dominance in the hard sciences. But just as Edison was inspired by popular biographies of innovators before him, so might the next generation of scientific and commercial explorers find guidance in Evans's exciting survey. 500 color illus. Forecast: The PBS series and a two-part serial in U.S. News and World Report should add to what will undoubtedly be generous holiday sales for this gift book." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[A] compellingly written, nicely illustrated reminder of how much we in 2005 owe to some determined, risk-taking forebears." Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times Book Review
The real inventor of the steam engine. The creator of the bra. The man who invented modern banking. The creator of the computer operating system. These and scores of others are the characters that populate Harold Evans's rollicking, brilliant history of the men and women who made America great. Vast and beautifully designed with hundreds of duotones and photos throughout (many never before published), the book is itself a creation as grand as those it describes. Evans reveals the surprising truths behind many of the creations that made our modern world, as well as the lessons we can learn by studying the great entrepreneurs and innovators of the past two centuries.
An illustrated history of American innovators some well known, some unknown, and all fascinating by the author of the bestselling The American Century.
Now available in a text-only paperback edition, "They Made America" is a stirring and supremely readable work of history--a celebration of the entrepreneurial energy that has fueled this nation since its inception.
About the Author
Harold Evans is the author of the New York Times
bestseller The American Century
. He was the founding editor of Condé Nast Traveler
, editorial director of U.S. News & World Report
, and president and publisher of Random House, where he published a record number of bestsellers. He was editor of the London Sunday Times
and of The Times
, and his account of those years, Good Times, Bad Times
, was a #1 bestseller in Britain. He lives in New York.
Gail Buckland is a historian of photography and the author of numerous books. She is currently a Professor of the History of Photography at the Cooper Union in New York City.
David Lefer has worked as an investigative reporter at numerous newspapers, including the New York Daily News and Newsday.