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Medieval Machine: Industrial Revolution of the Middle Ages [Hardcover]

Jean Gimpel
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Littlehampton Book Services Ltd; 1st edition (10 Mar 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575021357
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575021358
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,597,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Technology of the pre-Technological Era 14 Oct 2003
Format:Hardcover
Gimpel provides a classic study of the technology of the Middle Ages. The Industrial Revolution is associated with innovation and invention, but ingenuity and science had not suddenly been discovered. Gimpel looks at the inventiveness of the medieval mind, its rediscovery and application of older methods. He explores the social and economic demands and consequences of technology. An essential read for any writer trying to capture the mood of the times and dispel myths that this was some fantasy age of religion and magic but no science or engineering.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Almost forgotten history 16 Oct 2009
Format:Hardcover
This is an authoritative account of a period in history that is largely unknown or understood. Most historians place their emphasis on the social aspects of the time, but this well researched book presents a picture from the technological point of view. Absolutely fascinating!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pre-Industrial Technology 14 Oct 2003
Format:Hardcover
Gimpel provides a classic study of the technology of the Middle Ages. The Industrial Revolution is associated with innovation and invention, but ingenuity and science had not suddenly been discovered. Gimpel looks at the inventiveness of the medieval mind, its rediscovery and application of older methods. He explores the social and economic demands and consequences of technology. An essential read for any writer trying to capture the mood of the times and dispel myths that this was some fantasy age of religion and magic but no science or engineering.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A new light on the Middle Ages 24 July 2014
By FrankM
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent account of the advances made in medieval times in Europe. Well written and very informative. Gave me a new insight into the medieval period.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.9 out of 5 stars  16 reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and readable account. 17 Nov 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The criticisms made by some of the other reviewers on Amazon.com concerning this book's often political undertone are quite valid, however the subject has seen scant analysis. Relevations concerning pollution controls in force six hundred years ago are particularly interesting as being demonstrative of the relative sophistication of medieval Europeans. Gimpel's book is very approachable in its prose and it conveniently covers a number of areas, but it doesn't cover technology transfer (especially from Byzantium or the East) in adequate detail. The copy of this book I have is fairly old (1976) and subsequent research has clarified some of the points made in Gimpel's work. Recent issues of Scientific American and other "popular" sources, for example, contain information on diverse areas such as ship building which would have been beneficial to be included in Gimpel's work. In this respect Gimpel's book can not be considered authoratative. It is pleasant though to read a book on this subject, which for some readers will demonstrate the ingenuity of the medieval engineer.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Re-assessment of medieval technology 9 July 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
An excellent work marred by a little too much enthusiasm, this book will convey to the student of history the notion that the middle ages were not the black hole of lack of technology that most historians portray them to be. The author compares the changes in technology, and the scope of their results, to the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century, and he may be pushing the analogy a bit. However, it is certainly true that technology did advance in ways in the Middle Ages. As for biases and tone, the author veers deceptively about, now seeming anti-industrialist, now communist, now capitalist, now labor historian. The book is marred by a final chapter in which the author tries to draw a parallel between the Middle Ages and the modern day that is both not well described and does not seem to be accurate given the circumstances of the world 20 years after the writing. But for the descriptions of technology alone, and of corporate-like structures in the middle ages, this is a good read.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars facinating 12 Aug 2003
By A. Richins - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
What I liked about the book was how it provided a glimpse into the every day life in the Middle ages by describing technological advances. It just opened up that facet of Medieval History that is hardly ever touched on.
Medieval times are usually protrayed as a step backwards from the classical era in terms of technology and sophitication. This book sort of dispells our generic view of the Middle Ages as an age of Pagentry and fairy tales, and shows us how commerce was run during that era. Maybe I'm just a geek, but I found it very interesting.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unique perspective on medieval history 1 Feb 2008
By Alan Fox - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Ask history professors about medieval Europe and they will likely highlight its philosphical achievements and political and theogical conflict. Rarely will they talk about the technological achievements and their effects on society.

This books fill in that gap. For anyone interested in technological history you will find this book very interesting. From the machinery of mills to advancements of building technology to the necessity for unions, this books shows how we are not all that unlike medieval Europe. It even speaks of events that we do not think about; i.e. medieval Europe was much warmer and drier then it is today. Medieval Europe was not technologically stagnant, but made many advancements that lead the way for modern advanced society. Great book!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A different kind of analysis 19 July 2005
By Jasper L. Mcchesney - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found The Medieval Machine a refreshing examination of the material cicumstances of medieval life, including power sources, agriculture and food, mining, and the environment. I also appreciated Gimpel's fairly 'hard' approach, including many real numbers (e.g. considing the percentage of vegetables consumed and what health problems might arise from that). The sections on general mechanization and science are less good than the others, but not terrible. The book does not try to be sweeping but to focus on a few select topics, and it does this well.
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