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Creating the 20th Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact
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Creating the 20th Century: Technical Innovations of 1867-1914 and Their Lasting Impact

4.23  ·  Rating Details  ·  60 Ratings  ·  5 Reviews
The period between 1867 and 1914 remains the greatest watershed in human history since the emergence of settled agricultural societies: the time when an expansive civilization based on synergy of fuels, science, and technical innovation was born. At its beginnings in the 1870s were dynamite, the telephone, photographic film, and the first light bulbs. Its peak decade - the ...more
Hardcover, 350 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 2004)
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Mar 24, 2014 Dan rated it really liked it
I have very mixed feelings about this very absorbing book about the development of electric power transmission, internal combustion motors, new chemical processes, and telephone and radio in the period from 1865 to 1914.

Smil is a great story-teller, weaving in technical details about the individual inventions with the broader picture of overwhelming and rapid technological change. (But he assumes a fairly high level of technical knowledge going in -- for example he gives a great explanation of
Mar 28, 2016 Clogs rated it really liked it
A facilitating read but also a very deep and long read. This is not a page turner. A deep look at the technical advances that made the modern world.

An actual quiet fascinating book. I've found that I've been talking about lots of the ideas me outcomes of the book at social events recently. It's super geeky, but works. People seem to be interested.

It's a fairly fascinating review of the drivers of change bin our society through the lens of technology - however smil would never use the word tech
Joe Q.
Jul 05, 2015 Joe Q. rated it liked it
"Creating The 20th Century" provides an overview of the technical innovations of the period roughly from 1867 to 1914, arguing that a unique confluence of inventive activity, patent prosecution, and prompt commercialization led to a highly synergistic transformation of daily life during this period that has no prior parallel.

The author's case is persuasively argued and the book makes for a very interesting, if sometimes plodding, read. Technically oriented people who are not themselves mechanica
Dec 02, 2014 Bart rated it really liked it
A great book, which goes a long way to dispelling the myth of "ever-accelerating technological change". Smil clearly elucidates something I've long believed: that my grandparents went through far more dramatic changes in lifestyle due to technology than my generation has experienced. Unfortunately, many of the illustrations (primarily drawings from patent applications) are cryptic and not very helpful;; but fortunately, Smil's explanations are clear enough that the illustrations are seldom essen ...more
May 03, 2016 Mattila rated it really liked it
Informative, structured, well-researched and nicely annotated with illustrations.
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Vaclav Smil does interdisciplinary research in the fields of energy, environmental and population change, food production and nutrition, technical innovation, risk assessment, and public policy.

He has published 35 books and more than 400 papers on these topics. He is a Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada (Science Academy), and the
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