The Shock of the Old

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David Edgerton. The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History since 1900. New York: Oxford University Press. 2007. Pp. xviii, 270. $26.00.



1: "Significance" [subheads: "Accessing technologies", "Use is not enough", "Technological choice", "Assessing aviation and nuclear energy"', "Spin-off", "Small technologies and big effects", "Malaria", "

2: "Time" [subheads: "Times are changing", "Horses, mules and oxen", "The decline of the 'mule' spinning machine", "Not Alphaville but bidonville: technology and the poor megacity", "Creole technology", "Transport", "Remodelling the boat", "Retro and reappearance"]

3: "Production" [subheads: "Household production", "The sewing machine and the spinning wheel", "Tools and small trades", "Family farms in the USA and the USSR", "The agricultural revolution in the long boom", "Industry and mass production", "Cars in the long boom", "Service industries", "

4: "Maintenance" [subheads: "How important are maintenance and repair?", "Maintenance", "Mass production and the art of car maintenance", "Maintenance and large-scale industry", "Aviation", "The battleships and the bombers", "From maintenance to manufacture and innovation", "Engineers and the maintenance of society"]

5: "Nations" [subheads: "National innovation and national growth", "Techno-globalism", "Autarky and other things", "Hydrogenation", "The nation is not everything", "Foreign technology and socialism in one country", "Nations versus firms", "Nation, empire, race", "Asia and techno-nationalism"]

6: "War" [subheads: "The conventional story", "Old weapons and killing in war", "Paradoxes of lethality", "Power and effect - unused and unusable weapons", "Technological and economic determinism in war", "Iraq and the past", "Torture", "War, technology and the history of the twentieth century"]

7: "Killing" [subheads: "Innovation in killing", "Whaling and fishing", "Slaughterhouses", "Killing animals in the long boom and after", "Executions and other killings", "Technologies of genocide"]

8: "Invention" [subheads: "Academic science and invention", "Stage models of invention", "New inventive institutions", "How does the bomb project fit in?", "Is the rate of invention ever increasing?]

Edgerton surveys twentieth century technology in the context of a trans-national "use-centered" (or "use-based") history. He positions this approach as a means of refuting the "assumption that national innovation determines national success." [p. xiv] A use-centered approach places the emphasis of significance not on the traditional narratives of "innovation-centric" development that often focuses exclusively on the "rich world," but on the acceptance of the technology so that "what does not change" is realized as much as any celebrated technological transformation and that the rich world cultural bias is minimized.


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