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Steam: The Untold Story of America's First Great Invention

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  28 ratings  ·  7 reviews
In 1807, Robert Fulton, using an English mail-order steam engine, chugged four miles an hour up the Hudson River, passing into popular folklore as the inventor of the steamboat. However, the true first passenger steamboat in America, and the world, was built from scratch, and plied the Delaware River in 1790, almost two decades earlier. Its inventor, John Fitch, never atta
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published July 16th 2004 by Palgrave Macmillan (first published 2004)
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Terezi Pyrope
Dec 10, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Initially, this book provides a credible intention to describing the struggle and adversity that had occurred between two innovators that fought for patent rights for the steam engine in the newly-established late 1700's America. Although the novel only briefly describes the mechanics and engineering of the steam engine itself, Sutcliffe thoroughly explains the intentions and character of the two men who fabricated the ideologies of a steam powered engine. One prominent con presented here would ...more
May 11, 2017 rated it liked it
This is not a story of heroic invention. It is a story of heroic failure. There is no scientific genius here. Just hardscrabble experimentation, most of which keeps ending in miserable negative results and swallowing up capital and condemning inventors to poverty.

For most of the book, the only things discussed are a succession of false starts, failures, and squabbles. There's no narrative about scientific or technical insight. What there possibly is insight on, is on the need for venture capita
Kayla Tornello
Sep 27, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: adult, non-fiction
The subject of this book is interesting. The development of steam power really affected industry. However, the book itself was a bit on the dry side. It failed to keep my interest.
Aug 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
It was an interesting read focused on the who did what when, who ripped who off, who got back stabbed by whom and how that affected the development of steam power in the emerging US of A. A very inside baseball approach to a subject I suspect only a small number of us find fascinating.

For general readers I give it three stars because there are more comprehensive works on early steam power. For the specialist reader it's definitely five stars. Accordingly, I'll compromise and rate it four stars.
Apr 10, 2010 rated it it was ok
Despite the title, Flexner earlier told how steamboats were invented. Sutcliffe does say more about how Fitch, Rumsey, & Fulton obtained patents & monopolies, and also mentions inventors Flexner left out
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A bit quixotic--popular in tone but lots of scholarly backup.
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Originally from San Antonio, Andrea Sutcliffe has a journalism degree from the University of Texas at Austin. She was a writer, editor, and publications manager in the Washington, DC, area for twenty years. Her writing and editing career began in 1990 as director of the EEI Press in Alexandria, Virginia. In 1996, Andrea Sutcliffe moved to Virginias Shenandoah Valley to devote herself full-time to ...more

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