Synopses & Reviews
The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Making of the Atomic Bomb
provides a unique perspective on the twentieth century through a lively collection of writings about the unexpected and paradoxical ways in which technology has changed our lives -- and will affect our future.
Technology has been the blessing and the bane of the twentieth century. Human lifespan has nearly doubled in the West, but in no century have more human beings ever been killed by new technologies of war. Improvements in agriculture have fed increasing billions, but pesticides and chemicals threaten to poison the Earth.
Does technology improve us or diminish us? Enslave us or make us free? The problems and paradoxes of technology have stirred impassioned debate, yet, despite the central role technology has played in this century, Visions of Technology is the first book to explore the rich diversity of commentary about this vital subject.
Guided by the eminent Richard Rhodes, the reader of this provocative treasury will find highlighted the views of such prominent technological figures as Henry Ford, H. G. Wells, Rachel Carson, Margaret Sanger, Aldous Huxley, John Glenn and Gordon E. Moore. Visions of Technology also features thought-provoking images -- from the first X ray to R. Crumb's comic apocalypse -- which inform this original, much-needed roundtable.
Among the gems of opinion and history of technology gathered in this volume are Henry Ford on the horseless carriage, Thorstein Veblen on the discipline of the machine, David McCullough on the Panama Canal, Billy Mitchell on air warfare, Margaret Sanger on birth control, Robert Caro on Robert Moses, Charles Lindbergh on flying, James Agee on overalls, Lieutenant General Leslie R. Groves on the Manhattan Project, J. Robert Oppenheimer on science and war, Isaac Asimov on robotics, Alva Myrdal on "Blue Jeans and Coca-Cola," Joan Didion on the Hoover Dam and Julian L. Simon on the pitfalls of making predictions (of which there are many in the 214 selections that make up this book).
At once a work of cultural history and of literature, Visions of Technology is an indispensable guide to understanding the world we have created for ourselves in the twentieth century and the problems we face at its conclusion.
About the Author
Richard Rhodes received the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award for The Making of the Atomic Bomb, and the History of Science Society's Watson Davis and Helen Miles Davis Prize for Dark Sun. His other books include Deadly Feasts, Nuclear Renewal, Making Love and A Hole in the World. He lives in rural Connecticut.
Table of Contents
Preface to the Sloane Technology Series/Introduction/Richard Rhodes
I. THE NEW TECHNOLOGY: 1900-1933
America in 1900/Mark Sullivan
Messages Without Wires/Guglielmo Marconi
A Very Loud Electromagnetic Voice/P. T. McGrath
Wilbur Wright's Affliction/Wilbur Wright
A Horseless Carriage Was a Common Idea/Henry Ford
Praying to the Dynamo/Henry Adams
The American Will Not Live Near His Work/Charles M. Skinner
The Profession of Engineering/Herbert Hoover
A Reservoir of Suffering Humanity/Richard Rhodes
The Charge of the Four Hundred/Anonymous
The Discipline of the Machine/Thorstein Veblen
A Good Reason for Everything That He Tries/Richard C. Maclaurin
Forty Doses of Chemicals and Colors/Mark Sullivan
The Wonderful Culebra Cut/David McCullough
Dignity Versus Intoxication/Roger Burlingame
Predictions: The Flying-Machine of the Future/Waldemar Kaempffert
A Rapid Succession of Improvements/George Eastman
Every Woman an Engineer/Ellen Swallow Richards
A High-Priced Man/Frederick Winslow Taylor
Producing Wealth But Grinding Man/Samuel Gompers
A Babe Still in the Cradle/Arthur D. Little
A City Built by Experts/Frederic C. Howe
Predictions: Atomic Bombs/H. G. Wells
Paving Propaganda/Morris Llewellyn Cooke
Making History/Henry Ford
The Line-Gang/Robert Frost
Gasoline Dripping from the Trees/Max W. Ball
Billy Mitchell Takes to the Air/Brigadier General William Mitchell
The Mechanization of War: I/William L. Sibert
The Mechanization of War: II/Orville Wright
Breaking Crust/Thomas P. Hughes
Birth Control/Margaret Sanger