Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Vacation - Dreams of Iron and Steel

I have been offline and will continue to be. We went north along Puget Sound first - Sunday through Wednesday. Passing through town today. Then we go south, also Puget Sound, until Sunday July 10. I quickly read Dreams of Iron and Steel by Deborah Cadbury.
From Booklist The lengthy subtitle tells the story of this fascinating look at technological triumphs in the nineteenth century. (The book complements a five-part television series scheduled to air in 2004 on the Learning Channel.) Cadbury begins with the story of the largest oceangoing vessel in the history of the world, the Great Eastern, which was envisioned by its creator as "a floating city, majestic by day and a brilliant mirage at night," a ship that would carry 4,000 passengers across the seas. It was a mammoth project with massively disappointing results, but the Great Eastern was indeed a wonder. Other nineteenth-century wonders, such as Hoover Dam, the Panama Canal, and the North American transcontinental railroad, proved more successful, but what all seven wonders have in common is this: they were born of big ideas. The nineteenth century, Cadbury emphasizes, was the dividing line between the old world and the new, between a world that hadn't changed much in centuries and one in which rapid change, especially in technology, would become a way of life. David Pitt Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
After the French spent a fortune trying to build a canal across Panama from the Atlantic to the Pacific - they tried a sea-level route - the Americans took it up. The French were first-class in their engineering and no slouches on management. But the key difference was that the Americans tackled yellow fever which was killing workers by the thousands. And they put in locks and built it about 85 feet above sea level. This is a fascinating book. Every project was incredible. And most still are.

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