Works of Man

Works of Man
by Ronald W. Clark

SH, C, GA **


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This volume is basically a well-selected and comprehensive historic overview of Western technology with a useful emphasis on developments in Britain. The unifying theme is the depiction of how human needs have been satisfied through technology--sometimes by intricate chains of diverse links. For example, deforestation in Britain led to greater use of coal, which in turn led to creation of deeper mines, which engendered ground water seepage that was unpumpable at such great depths by the then conventional techniques. To solve the problem, steam-powered pumps were developed, and they heralded the age of steam. The author treats each set of links of a particular technology in a sound manner. The prose flowing from one interlinked technology to another is lucid and riveting. After an initial tour of selected monuments of the ancient world, the text focuses on: the engineering method, the steam age, the canal age, the railroad age, iron and steel making and bridge building, steam-powered ships, manmade materials, the electric age, the air transport age, tunneling and skyscraper construction, electronic computation, the nuclear age, space travel, and "futures" of new materials and energy sources. In sum, Clark has written a fascinating book with expertly selected illustrations.

--Reviewed by Frederick C. Gamst in Science Books and Films, 21/5 (May/June 1986), p. 311.