THE STORY OF TOOLS: How They Built Our World and Shaped Man's Life by James Poling
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THE STORY OF TOOLS: How They Built Our World and Shaped Man's Life

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The Story of Tools--hand tools, simple machines, machine tools, mechanical power (the steam engine, the internal-combustion engine, electricity), mass-production, automated machines--not as self-contained chronology but as the history of civilization. Connections are established throughout (fire sparks the science of metallurgy, Renaissance experiments eventuate in the steam engine, the internal-combustion engine requires electrical ignition); physical and mechanical principles are fully and relevantly explained (and diagrammed); social factors figure where operative (e.g. slavery and serfdom as retarding mechanization); salient individuals are featured (a notable chapter centers on Hero's grasp of the significance of simple machines and his prophetic inventions) but every inventor is not celebrated; little-known innovations (like barbed wire) get their just due. Which is a list of excellences that only begins to suggest the book's range. It is, however, a concise, highly selective study, interestingly inflected and sharply revealing--a humanist technology with a lien (via atomic fuel and the laser) on the future.

Pub Date: Oct. 27th, 1969
Publisher: Norton