By David E. Nye
After 1776, the previous American colonies started to reimagine themselves as a unified, self-created group. applied sciences had a tremendous position within the ensuing nationwide narratives, and some applied sciences assumed specific prominence. between those have been the awl, the mill, the canal, the railroad, and the irrigation dam. during this publication David Nye explores the tales that clustered round those applied sciences. In doing so, he rediscovers an American tale of origins, with the United States conceived as a moment production in-built concord with God's first construction. whereas mainstream american citizens developed technological origin tales to provide an explanation for their position within the New international, notwithstanding, marginalized teams informed different tales of destruction and loss. local americans protested the lack of their forests, fishermen resisted the development of dams, and early environmentalists feared the exhaustion of assets. A water mill will be seen because the kernel of a brand new group or as a brand new approach to take advantage of hard work. If passengers comprehended railways as a part of a bigger narrative approximately American enlargement and development, many farmers attacked railroad land can provide. To discover those contradictions, Nye devotes alternating chapters to narratives of moment production and to narratives of these who rejected it. Nye attracts on renowned literature, speeches, ads, work, and lots of different media to create a historical past of yank origin tales. He indicates how those tales have been revised periodically, as social and monetary stipulations replaced, with no ever erasing the sooner tales solely. a dead ringer for the remoted frontier kinfolk carving a home out of the barren region with an awl persists to at the present time, along later pictures and narratives. within the book's end, Nye considers the relation among those past tales and such later American advancements because the conservation stream, narratives of environmental restoration, and the idealization of desolate tract.
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Extra info for America as Second Creation: Technology and Narratives of New Beginnings
An irrigation project made an entire region habitable. The sequence of foundation narratives transferred every increase in technological power onto an enlarged urban scale, culminating in the imaginative projection of a world metropolis, a central point from which radiated lines of power and influence: rivers, canals, and railroads. This fantasy, though realized in part in Chicago and Denver, usually proved chimerical. Such narrative assertions culminated in the projections of what irrigation could do in the arid West, where mastery of technology was expected to transform a desert into a vast and fertile garden supporting a huge population.
Owing to the universality of the grid, each narrative became more than the description of a particular technology used at one location; it became a general account of the operation of necessity. Time and again, as authors described how axes, mills, canals, railways, and irrigation ditches could transform the world, the story was presented as a representative tale. The sequence of events seemed inevitable. What else but progress could result from the human control of increasingly abundant resources in a space that was inexpensive, mathematically organized, and fostered by a free market?
Although in many areas the enlightened self-interest of individuals engaged in private competition would provide the most efficient administration and would supply the least expensive goods and services, Smith added an important caveat to such generalizations when it came to maintaining transportation. He posed as examples a canal and a public road. If a canal is not maintained in good order, the water runs out of it, the locks do not work, and the business is lost. A road, however, can deteriorate quite badly and still be passable, even if the traveler must proceed slowly and with discomfort.