A Short History of Technology from the Earliest Times to A.D. 1900

A Short History of Technology from the Earliest Times to A.D. 1900

A Short History of Technology from the Earliest Times to A.D. 1900

A Short History of Technology from the Earliest Times to A.D. 1900

Excerpt

This book is the sequel to a very much larger work, a five-volume History of Technology, endowed by Imperial Chemical Industries Limited and published by the Clarendon Press, Oxford. When the compilation of this large work was approved in 1949 it was expected that there might in due course be a demand for a smaller book covering much the same ground. This expectation has been fulfilled: many reviewers of the earlier volumes specifically urged the publication of a shorter version that would introduce the subject to a much wider body of readers. In view of this, I.C.I. agreed to make available the further endowment that was necessary and the Clarendon Press undertook publication: the present book is the result.

In planning this work much thought has been given to how the needs of both the general reader and students interested in the technical aspects could best be met. From the outset it was evident that any attempt merely to summarize the five-volume History was quite impracticable, not only because of the enormous compression that would be necessary, but because the plan of the original did not lend itself to such treatment. A different book was clearly necessary, and although this made the task much more exacting it provided a welcome opportunity of approaching the subject in a new way. With this freedom of action, it was decided to attempt a book in which the story of technological development was at every epoch closely related to the historical background. This book aims at being as much a technological history as a history of technology, and in pursuing this course we believe ourselves to be following an important modern trend. Notwithstanding the achievements of Lecky and Buckle and such brilliant interludes as Macaulay's Third Chapter--to quote only English examples--historians in the nineteenth century largely restricted themselves to political and constitutional history. In the twentieth century a more liberal interpretation of the meaning of history reappeared, and economic and social factors began to receive due attention from the historiographer. The importance of technological factors, however, is still . . .

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