Engineering the Revolution: Arms and Enlightenment in France, 1763-1815

University of Chicago Press
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Engineering the Revolution documents the forging of a new relationship between technology and politics in Revolutionary France, and the inauguration of a distinctively modern form of the “technological life.” Here, Ken Alder rewrites the history of the eighteenth century as the total history of one particular artifact—the gun—by offering a novel and historical account of how material artifacts emerge as the outcome of political struggle. By expanding the “political” to include conflict over material objects, this volume rethinks the nature of engineering rationality, the origins of mass production, the rise of meritocracy, and our interpretation of the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.
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About the author

Ken Alder is the Milton H. Wilson Professor of the Humanities and professor of history at Northwestern University. He is the author of The Measure of All Things: The Seven-Year Odyssey and Hidden Error that Transformed the World and The Lie Detectors: The History of an American Obsession.

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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Apr 15, 2010
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Pages
496
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ISBN
9780226012650
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Europe / France
History / Military / Weapons
Technology & Engineering / General
Technology & Engineering / Military Science
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Chris Kyle
Chris Kyle—fallen hero and #1 bestselling author of American Sniper—reveals how ten legendary guns forever changed U.S. history.

At the time of his tragic death in February 2013, former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, the top sniper in U.S. military history, was finishing one of the most exciting missions of his life: a remarkable book that retold American history through the lens of a hand-selected list of firearms. Kyle masterfully shows how guns have played a fascinating, indispensable, and often underappreciated role in our national story.

"Perhaps more than any other nation in the world," Kyle writes, "the history of the United States has been shaped by the gun. Firearms secured the first Europeans' hold on the continent, opened the frontier, helped win our independence, settled the West, kept law and order, and defeated tyranny across the world."

Drawing on his unmatched firearms knowledge and combat experience, Kyle carefully chose ten guns to help tell his story: the American long rifle, Spencer repeater, Colt .45 revolver, Winchester rifle, Springfield 1903 rifle, Thompson sub-machine gun, 1911 pistol, M1 Garand, .38 Special police revolver, and the M-16 rifle platform Kyle himself used as a SEAL. Through them, he revisits thrilling turning points in American history, including the single sniper shot that turned the tide of the Revolutionary War, the firearms designs that proved decisive at Gettysburg, the "gun that won the West," and the weapons that gave U.S. soldiers an edge in the world wars and beyond. This is also the story of how firearms innovation, creativity, and industrial genius has constantly pushed American history—and power—forward.

Filled with an unforgettable cast of characters, Chris Kyle's American Gun is a sweeping epic of bravery, adventure, invention, and sacrifice.

Ken Alder
The story of the lie detector takes us straight into the dark recesses of the American soul. It also leads us on a noir journey through some of the most storied episodes in American history. That is because the device we take for granted as an indicator of guilt or innocence actually tells us more about our beliefs than about our deeds. The machine does not measure deception so much as feelings of guilt or shame. As Ken Alder reveals in his fascinating and disturbing account, the history of the lie detector exposes fundamental truths about our culture: why we long to know the secret thoughts of our fellow citizens; why we believe in popular science; and why America embraced the culture of "truthiness."

For centuries, people searched in vain for a way to unmask liars, seeking clues in blushing cheeks, shifty eyes, and curling toes...all the body's outward signs. But not until the 1920s did a cop with a Ph.D. team up with an entrepreneurial high school student from Berkeley, California and claim to have invented a foolproof machine that peered directly into the human heart. In a few short years their polygraph had transformed police work, seized headlines, solved sensational murders, and enthralled the nation. In Chicago, the capital of American vice, the two men wielded their device to clean up corruption, reform the police, and probe the minds of infamous killers. Before long the lie detector had become the nation's "mechanical conscience," searching for honesty on Main Street, in Hollywood, and even within Washington, D.C. Husbands and wives tested each other's fidelity. Corporations tested their employees' honesty. Movie studios and advertisers tested their audiences' responses. Eventually, thousands of government employees were tested for their loyalty and "morals" -- for lack of which many lost their jobs.

Yet the machine was flawed. It often was used to accuse the wrong person. It could easily be beaten by those who knew how. Repeatedly it has been applied as an instrument of psychological torture, with the goal of extracting confessions. And its creators paid a commensurate price. One went mad trying to destroy the Frankenstein's monster he had created. The other became consumed by mistrust: jealous of his cheating wife, contemptuous of his former mentor, and driven to an early death. The only happy man among the machine's champions was the eccentric psychologist who went on to achieve glory as the creator of Wonder Woman.

Yet this deceptive device took America -- and only America -- by storm. Today, the CIA still administers polygraphs to its employees. Accused celebrities loudly trumpet its clean bill of truth. And the U.S. government, as part of its new "war on terror," is currently exploring forms of lie detection that reach directly into the brain. Apparently, America still dreams of a technology that will render human beings transparent.

The Lie Detectors is the entertaining and thought-provoking story of that American obsession.
Richard Preston
“The bard of biological weapons captures
the drama of the front lines.”
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Peter Jahrling, the top scientist at Usamriid, a wry virologist who cut his teeth on Ebola, one of the world’s most lethal emerging viruses, has ORCON security clearance that gives him access to top secret information on bioweapons. His most urgent priority is to develop a drug that will take on smallpox-and win. Eradicated from the planet in 1979 in one of the great triumphs of modern science, the smallpox virus now resides, officially, in only two high-security freezers-at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta and in Siberia, at a Russian virology institute called Vector. But the demon in the freezer has been set loose. It is almost certain that illegal stocks are in the possession of hostile states, including Iraq and North Korea. Jahrling is haunted by the thought that biologists in secret labs are using genetic engineering to create a new superpox virus, a smallpox resistant to all vaccines.

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Kim Zetter
Top cybersecurity journalist Kim Zetter tells the story behind the virus that sabotaged Iran’s nuclear efforts and shows how its existence has ushered in a new age of warfare—one in which a digital attack can have the same destructive capability as a megaton bomb.
 
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Ken Alder
The story of the lie detector takes us straight into the dark recesses of the American soul. It also leads us on a noir journey through some of the most storied episodes in American history. That is because the device we take for granted as an indicator of guilt or innocence actually tells us more about our beliefs than about our deeds. The machine does not measure deception so much as feelings of guilt or shame. As Ken Alder reveals in his fascinating and disturbing account, the history of the lie detector exposes fundamental truths about our culture: why we long to know the secret thoughts of our fellow citizens; why we believe in popular science; and why America embraced the culture of "truthiness."

For centuries, people searched in vain for a way to unmask liars, seeking clues in blushing cheeks, shifty eyes, and curling toes...all the body's outward signs. But not until the 1920s did a cop with a Ph.D. team up with an entrepreneurial high school student from Berkeley, California and claim to have invented a foolproof machine that peered directly into the human heart. In a few short years their polygraph had transformed police work, seized headlines, solved sensational murders, and enthralled the nation. In Chicago, the capital of American vice, the two men wielded their device to clean up corruption, reform the police, and probe the minds of infamous killers. Before long the lie detector had become the nation's "mechanical conscience," searching for honesty on Main Street, in Hollywood, and even within Washington, D.C. Husbands and wives tested each other's fidelity. Corporations tested their employees' honesty. Movie studios and advertisers tested their audiences' responses. Eventually, thousands of government employees were tested for their loyalty and "morals" -- for lack of which many lost their jobs.

Yet the machine was flawed. It often was used to accuse the wrong person. It could easily be beaten by those who knew how. Repeatedly it has been applied as an instrument of psychological torture, with the goal of extracting confessions. And its creators paid a commensurate price. One went mad trying to destroy the Frankenstein's monster he had created. The other became consumed by mistrust: jealous of his cheating wife, contemptuous of his former mentor, and driven to an early death. The only happy man among the machine's champions was the eccentric psychologist who went on to achieve glory as the creator of Wonder Woman.

Yet this deceptive device took America -- and only America -- by storm. Today, the CIA still administers polygraphs to its employees. Accused celebrities loudly trumpet its clean bill of truth. And the U.S. government, as part of its new "war on terror," is currently exploring forms of lie detection that reach directly into the brain. Apparently, America still dreams of a technology that will render human beings transparent.

The Lie Detectors is the entertaining and thought-provoking story of that American obsession.
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