Made in U.S.A.: The Secret Histories of the Things That Made America

Phil Patton, Author Grove/Atlantic $24.95 (403p) ISBN 978-0-8021-1276-7
Vastly informative and great fun to read, this lively account explains how popular technology helped mold American society--and vice versa. Impressively erudite Esquire columnist Patton ( Open Road ) has researched his subject exhaustively; the reader will learn as much about the rise and development of the paper bag and the eggbeater (typically American, by the way) as about xerography and the computer explosion. It is difficult to think of material objects not discussed here, as the author moves from Jefferson's writing box of 1775 through the mason jar, the sewing machine, the Ames shovel, the Colt revolver and the truss bridge to the Polaroid camera, the Gillette razor blade and the telephone. For each he presents a brief history, detailing the product's genesis, demonstrating how it met a need and chronicling its subsequent history. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 02/03/1992
Release date: 02/01/1992
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