Based on extensive interviews with the scientists, engineers, administrators, and executives who lived the story, this riveting chronicle details PARC's humble beginnings through its triumph as a hothouse for ideas, and shows why Xerox was never able to grasp, and ultimately exploit, the cutting-edge innovations PARC delivered. Dealers of Lightning offers an unprecedented look at the ideas, the inventions, and the individuals that propelled Xerox PARC to the frontier of technohistoiy--and the corporate machinations that almost prevented it from achieving greatness.
Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Michael Hiltzik uses the saga of the dam’s conception, design, and construction to tell the broader story of America’s efforts to come to grips with titanic social, economic, and natural forces. For embodied in the dam’s striking machine-age form is the fundamental transformation the Depression wrought in the nation’s very culture—the shift from the concept of rugged individualism rooted in the frontier days of the nineteenth century to the principle of shared enterprise and communal support that would build the America we know today. In the process, the unprecedented effort to corral the raging Colorado River evolved from a regional construction project launched by a Republican president into the New Deal’s outstanding—and enduring—symbol of national pride.
Yet the story of Hoover Dam has a darker side. Its construction was a gargantuan engineering feat achieved at great human cost, its progress marred by the abuse of a desperate labor force. The water and power it made available spurred the development of such great western metropolises as Los Angeles, Phoenix, Denver, Las Vegas, Salt Lake City, and San Diego, but the vision of unlimited growth held dear by its designers and builders is fast turning into a mirage.
In Hiltzik’s hands, the players in this epic historical tale spring vividly to life: President Theodore Roosevelt, who conceived the project; William Mulholland, Southern California’s great builder of water works, who urged the dam upon a reluctant Congress; Herbert Hoover, who gave the dam his name though he initially opposed its construction; Frank Crowe, the dam’s renowned master builder, who pushed his men mercilessly to raise the beautiful concrete rampart in an inhospitable desert gorge. Finally there is Franklin Roosevelt, who presided over the ultimate completion of the project and claimed the credit for it. Hiltzik combines exhaustive research, trenchant observation, and unforgettable storytelling to shed new light on a major turning point of twentieth-century history.
Since the 1930s, the scale of scientific endeavor has grown exponentially. The first particle accelerator could be held in its creator’s lap, while its successor grew to seventeen miles in circumference and cost ten billion dollars. We have invented the atomic bomb, put man on the moon, and probed the inner workings of nature at the scale of subatomic particles—all the result of Big Science, the model of industrial-scale research paid for by governments, departments of defense, and corporations that has driven the great scientific projects of our time.
The birth of Big Science can be traced nearly nine decades ago in Berkeley, California, when a young scientist with a talent for physics declared, “I’m going to be famous!” His name was Ernest Orlando Lawrence. His invention, the cyclotron, would revolutionize nuclear physics, but that was only the beginning of its impact, which would be felt in academia, industry, and international politics. It was the beginning of Big Science.
“An exciting book….A bright narrative that captures the wonder of nuclear physics without flying off into a physics Neverland….Big Science is an excellent summary of how physics became nuclear and changed the world” (The Plain Dealer, Cleveland). This is the “absorbing and expansive” (Los Angeles Times) story that is “important for understanding how science and politics entwine in the United States…with striking details and revealing quotations” (The New York Times Book Review).
With The New Deal: A Modern History, Pulitzer Prize–winning writer Michael Hiltzik offers fresh insights into this inflection point in the American experience. Here is an intimate look at the alchemy that allowed FDR to mold his multifaceted and contentious inner circle into a formidable political team. The New Deal: A Modern History shows how Roosevelt, through the force of his personality, commanded the loyalty of the rock-ribbed fiscal conservative Lewis Douglas and the radical agrarian Rexford Tugwell alike; of Harold Ickes and Harry Hopkins, one a curmudgeonly miser, the other a spendthrift idealist; of Henry Morgenthau, gentleman farmer of upstate New York; and of Frances Perkins, a prim social activist with her roots in Brahmin New England. Yet the same character traits that made him so supple and self-confident a leader would sow the seeds of the New Deal’s end, with a shocking surge of Rooseveltian misjudgments.
Understanding the New Deal may be more important today than at any time in the last eight decades. Conceived in response to a devastating financial crisis very similar to America’s most recent downturn—born of excessive speculation, indifferent regulation of banks and investment houses, and disproportionate corporate influence over the White House and Congress—the New Deal remade the country’s economic and political environment in six years of intensive experimentation. FDR had no effective model for fighting the worst economic downturn in his generation’s experience; but the New Deal has provided a model for subsequent presidents who faced challenging economic conditions, right up to the present. Hiltzik tells the story of how the New Deal was made, demonstrating that its precepts did not spring fully conceived from the mind of FDR—before or after he took office. From first to last the New Deal was a work in progress, a patchwork of often contradictory ideas. Far from reflecting solely progressive principles, the New Deal also accommodated such conservative goals as a balanced budget and the suspension of antitrust enforcement. Some programs that became part of the New Deal were borrowed from the Republican administration of Herbert Hoover; indeed, some of its most successful elements were enacted over FDR’s opposition.
In this bold reevaluation of a decisive moment in American history, Michael Hiltzik dispels decades of accumulated myths and misconceptions about the New Deal to capture with clarity and immediacy its origins, its legacy, and its genius.
Social Security today is on a stronger financial footing than it has been for decades. The Plot Against Social Security will explain who is really behind the efforts to “reform” this system and will show that the most frequently proposed fix—increased privatization—will damage it beyond repair by undermining retirement security for generations to come. Award-winning journalist Michael Hiltzik also offers a clear set of remedies for those few elements of Social Security that do need repair—proposals that will shore up the most efficient social insurance program in America’s history, rather than destroying it in the name of reform.
Tracing D.C.'s massive transformations--from a sparsely inhabited plantation society into a diverse metropolis, from a center of the slave trade to the nation's first black-majority city, from "Chocolate City" to "Latte City--Asch and Musgrove offer an engaging narrative peppered with unforgettable characters, a history of deep racial division but also one of hope, resilience, and interracial cooperation.
Construction of the giant dam was a triumph of human ingenuity, yet the full story of this monumental endeavor has never been told. Now, in an engrossing, fast-paced narrative, Joseph E. Stevens recounts the gripping saga of Hoover Dam. Drawing on a wealth of material, including manuscript collections, government documents, contemporary newspaper and magazine accounts, and personal interviews and correspondence with men and women who were involved with the construction, he brings the Hoover Dam adventure to life.
Described here in dramatic detail are the deadly hazards the work crews faced as they hacked and blasted the dam’s foundation out of solid rock; the bitter political battles and violent labor unrest that threatened to shut the job down; the deprivation and grinding hardship endured by the workers’ families; the dam builders’ gambling, drinking, and whoring sprees in nearby Las Vegas; and the stirring triumphs and searing moments of terror as the massive concrete wedge rose inexorably from the canyon floor.
Here, too, is an unforgettable cast of characters: Henry Kaiser, Warren Bechtel, and Harry Morrison, the ambitious, headstrong construction executives who gambled fortune and fame on the Hoover Dam contract; Frank Crowe, the brilliant, obsessed field engineer who relentlessly drove the work force to finish the dam two and a half years ahead of schedule; Sims Ely, the irascible, teetotaling eccentric who ruled Boulder City, the straightlaced company town created for the dam workers by the federal government; and many more men and women whose courage and sacrifice, greed and frailty, made the dam’s construction a great human, as well as technological, adventure.
Hoover Dam is a compelling, irresistible account of an extraordinary American epic.
Cohen’s life provides an extraordinary lens through which to view the development of the evolving political philosophy of the Roosevelt and Truman presidencies. A brilliant lawyer noted for his good judgment and experience, Cohen was a leading member of FDR’s “Brain Trust,” developing ideas, drafting legislation, lobbying within the administration and in Congress, and defending the New Deal in court. The book traces his contributions to domestic financial policy, his activities during the war years in London and Washington, his service as counselor to the State Department and member of the American delegation to the United Nations after the war, and his role in the American Zionist movement. From Cohen’s life and work, Lasser draws important insights into the development of the New Deal and the evolution of postwar liberalism.