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Technology in World Civilization


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"A brilliant book... [Pacey] presents numerous expertly told, but brief, historical examples - many involving non-Western history - that demonstrate the subtlety, richness, and ultimate technological importance of an authentic dialogue." James R. Hansen, Science Books & Films

About the Author

Arnold Pacey is an Associate Lecturer at the Open University, Britain. He is the author of The Culture of Technology (MIT Press, 1983), Technology and World Civilization (MIT Press, 1991), and The Maze of Ingenuity, second edition (MIT Press, 1992).


Pacey, a physicist turned historian, traces the myriad crucial ways by which Western technology benefited from a continuous dialogue wth Chinese, Indian and Islamic civiizations. These cultures' innovations in hydraulic engineering, the smelting of iron, the invention of guns and gunpowder, in shipbuilding, printing and the weaving of textiles all strongly influenced Western technological development. In A.D. 1100 China was the most technologically advanced region in the world. What eventually gave the West a decisive edge, notes Pacey, was the development of disciplined factory production and the organization of knowledge according to general scientific principles. The author argues that Western science today often arrogantly ignores the constraints of local conditions in the Third World, which causes great harm: e.g., preventing African herdsmen from burning grasslands, a means of controlling the sleeping sickness-carrying tsetse flies that breed there. The book is packed with information, and readers interested in technology will want to add it to their bookshelves. (May)

A brilliant book...[Pacey] presents numerous expertly told, but brief, historical examples-many involving non-Western history-that demonstrate the subtlety, richness, and ultimate technological importance of an authentic dialogue.

-James R. Hansen, Science Books & Films

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