Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Reading Materials: Dawn of Innovation


Finished a fascinating little book the other day on the early part of the Industrial Revolution in the
US.  Crux has left me sort of focused on learning more about that period, since it has been an obsession of late.  So much so I tend to write almost nothing but Crux articles.  So let me step back and talk about a book for once.  Reading Materials is where I don't review so much as explain something I've read and enjoyed of late.

Let more critical people than me get around to critiquing them.

Dawn of Innovation focuses on the industrial revolution before the US Civil War.  It begins with the War of 1812; author Charles H. Morris uses a constant comparison between Great Britain and the US throughout the book.  British engineers focused deep on precision and developed the basis for industry.  So the book asks a question, why did the US blow past Britain in the late 19th century?

Morris points to the early end of the 19th century for answers.  The book does a great job of covering the myriad of origin stories for so many different industries in the US.  Neat stories about why the US Steamship industry failed to surpass Britain or about how American focus on scale caused them to find new innovations the British never thought of.

The most chilling point in the book is at its end, however.  Morris compares the rise of US industry with China.  Like China, the US stole many trade secrets in order to build its industrial base.  Fascinating look at the potential future, I'm sure.

And on another note, the War of 1812's conflicts on the Great Lakes?  Something I hadn't known about until this book.  The US and Britain engaged in a vicious arms race of freshwater ships during the war.  The story about that seemed worth the price of admission to me.  The War of 1812 has so many interesting weird bits to it- every time I learn about it, the deeper the intrigue of that conflict grows.

Ok, that's it for me.  Ever find anything neat in your research for stories or settings?