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Stronger Than a Hundred Men

Like many apparently simple devices, the vertical water wheel has been around for so long that it is taken for granted. Yet this "picturesque artifact" was for centuries man's primary mechanical source of power and was the foundation upon which mills and other industries developed. Stronger than a Hundred Men explores the development of the vertical water wheel from its invention in ancient times through its eventual demise as a source of power during the Industrial Revolution. Spanning more than 2000 years, Terry Reynolds's account follows the progression of this labor-saving device from Asia to the Middle East, Europe, and America--covering the evolution of the water wheel itself, the development of dams and reservoirs, and the applications of water power. Reynolds also considers the social, economic, and technological influences of the water wheel; scientific research into water power technology; and attempts to adapt the wheel to unusual operating conditions. This extensively documented and well-illustrated study has become a standard reference in the role of energy in human history.
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An extremely important, original, and substantial work. Few books in the history of technology can compare with it. -- Edwin Layton, University of Minnesota

About the Author

Terry S. Reynolds is a professor of history at Michigan Technological University. He is a past president of the Society for the History of Technology, twice winner of the Society for Industrial Archaeology's Norton Prize, and author or editor of seven books dealing with the history of technology.


The most comprehensive and definitive history of the water wheel ever published... Reynolds's study is documented by a staggering number of notes and a vast bibliography, and the text is supplemented by numerous excellent illustrations... An attractive and highly useful source of information. * Choice * This is an exceptional scholarly work-clearly written, fully documented, and informatively illustrated. * Library Journal * This lucid, technically precise, and comprehensive study of this key element in the evolution of Western society is a major scholarly contribution. It is also an extremely interesting and readable book that should appeal to anyone with an interest in energy, machinery, or innovation. * Science *

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