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America's Assembly Line


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To make sense of their twenty-first-century world, people need to understand the profound influence of the twentieth-century technology known as the assembly line. David Nye's sweeping analysis of the origins and development of 'the line' is the place to start. -- Robert Casey, former Senior Curator of Transportation, Henry Ford Museum It is hard to think of a manufacturing technology that has had a greater economic and social impact than the moving assembly line. In America's Assembly Line, David Nye shows us how this new technology emerged, expanded, stalled, and was reinvented, setting in train the age of mass production and consumerism as well as many of the subsequent environmental problems we experience today. Nye's beautifully nuanced and perceptive treatment of the subject indicates why he is one of the most distinguished historians of technology and culture working today. -- Merritt Roe Smith, Cutten Professor of the History of Technology, MIT Crafted with immense erudition, America's Assembly Line is a fascinating cultural history, combining extensive archival research and theoretical sophistication. Nye shows how America's growing economy in the twentieth century was powered by the assembly line and how deeply this 'general purpose technology' was intertwined with American culture, from the exuberance of the Rockettes to the dysphoria of the American worker. He offers a lucid, historically informed reading of the problems that beset America today, in a changed global economy that has adapted assembly-line technology to its advantage even as the American worker has been marginalized. -- Miles Orvell, Temple University, author of The Death and Life of Main Street: Small Towns in American Memory, Space, and Community

About the Author

David E. Nye is Senior Research Fellow at the Charles Babbage Institute and the History of Science and Technology program at the University of Minnesota and Professor Emeritus of American Studies at the University of Southern Denmark. His other books published by the MIT Press include Electrifying America and American Technological Sublime. He was awarded the Leonardo da Vinci Medal in 2005 and was knighted by the Queen of Denmark in 2013.


Nye's fascinating book deserves a wide readership. -Howard Segal, Times Higher Education
Nye's beautifully written interpretation covers so much ground that historians of technology, labor, business, international economics, and American culture will all find it an invaluable resource, offering new reasons to appreciate the hundred-year history of the assembly line. -Amy Sue Bix, American Historical Review

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