In this carefully detailed account of American inventors and inventions an author known in the field of science-fiction and fantasy turns to stern fact, with results as absorbing as any whodunit. As the story of inventions is also largely one of protective patents, the author defines his ""heroic age of American invention"" as starting in 1836, when the burning of the Patent Office forced the reorganization of American patent laws; he ends it with American entry into World War I in 1917. However, he by no means confines himself to these years. He writes of the granting of the first American patent in 1641, and of the invention of the steam-engine in England in 1765 -- and its results. Stressing the fact that few inventions occur from scratch but are the result of many inventions by many men, he tells of the cotton-gin and the steamboat, the internal-combustion engine, the telegraph and the telephone. Here are repeating rifles, the McCormick reaper, Gatlin guns, airplanes, automobiles, radio; here are patents and patent laws, law-suits -- and the inventors themselves, from Benjamin Franklin to the Wright Brothers and Edison. Compressing the whole background of American inventive genius into one volume, this fascinating and accurate book should appeal to inventors of all breeds, professional and would-be, to dreamers and do-it-yourself addicts, even to their sisters, cousins and aunts. A book for home, public and lending libraries, it will be an excellent gift volume for boys feeling their way into science -- and for their grandfathers.