Engineering Empires: A Cultural History of Technology in Nineteenth-Century Britain

Paperback | September 15, 2007

byBen Marsden

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Engineers are empire-builders. James Watt, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Robert Stephenson and a host of lesser known figures worked to build and expand personal and business empires of material technology founded on and sustained by durable networks of trust and expertise. In so doing these engineers and their heirs also became active agents of political and economic empire. Indeed, steamships, railways and electric telegraph systems increasingly complemented one another to form what one early twentieth-century telegraph engineer aptly termed "our most powerful weapon in the cause of Inter-Imperial Commerce". This book provides a fascinating exploration of the cultural construction of the large-scale technologies of empire.

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Engineers are empire-builders. James Watt, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Robert Stephenson and a host of lesser known figures worked to build and expand personal and business empires of material technology founded on and sustained by durable networks of trust and expertise. In so doing these engineers and their heirs also became active agen...

Format:PaperbackDimensions:256 pages, 8.5 × 5.5 × 0.75 inPublished:September 15, 2007Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230507042

ISBN - 13:9780230507043

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Technology, Science and Culture in the Long Nineteenth Century * 'Objects of National Importance': Exploration, Mapping and Measurement * Power and Wealth: Reputations and Rivalries in Steam Culture * Belief in Steamers: Making Trustworthy the Iron Steamship * Building Railway Empires: Promises in Space and Time * 'The Most Gigantic Electrical Experiment': The Trials of Telegraphy * Conclusion: Cultures of Technological Expertise * Bibliography * Index

Editorial Reviews

"Smith and Marsden provide here a brilliant and concise analysis of the figure of the Nineteenth-Century British engineer and the social and technical significance of engineering's work...The book will be indispensable for historians, technologists and anyone interesed in the roots of the current relation between applied knowledge and the wider society." - Professor Simon Schaffer, University of Cambridge"At last! This is the history of British technology we have been waiting for. When we open up the steam machines we find not just the cogs and wheels, but people of all sorts, stories that surprise, and all working in a cultural context of the highest sophistication. Marsden and Smith's cultural history matchs the best in new nineteenth century scholarship." - Dr Jon Agar, author of Turing and the Universal Machine: The Making of the Modern Computer "Highly recommended." —CHOICE