Engines of Change: The American Industrial Revolution, 1790-1860

Engines of Change: The American Industrial Revolution, 1790-1860
by Brooke Hindle and Steven Lubar

(Illus.)
Smithsonian Institution Press
1986
300pp.
0-87474-539-X
YA-T, GA **

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Engines of Change is based on a Smithsonian Institution exhibit of the same title. This lavishly illustrated, clearly written, and well-organized book will make a fine supplement for university courses on technology. The principal theme is the importance of technological transfer. The authors note the significant transfers of technology from Great Britain and other countries to the United States in the 18th and 19th centuries. The abundance of natural resources, a relatively unfettered population and the growth potential of the American economy contributed to innovative improvements on borrowed technologies as well as to domestic invention, which eventually also led to the transfer of technologies from the United States. In the last chapter, the authors compare the dismay of the British manufacturers concerning the Crystal Palace Exhibition in 1851, which displayed advancements in American technology largely derived from British inventions, to the more recent dismay of American manufacturers concerning Japanese successes largely derived from American inventions.

--Reviewed by Thomas R. Wessel in Science Books and Films, 23/3 (January/February 1988), p. 166.