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The Human Motor: Energy, Fatigue and the Origins of Modernity [Paperback]

Anson Rabinbach

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Book Description

7 Oct 1992
Science once had an unshakable faith in its ability to bring the forces of nature - even human nature - under control. In this wide-ranging book Anson Rabinbach examines how developments in physics, biology, medicine, psychology, politics, and art employed the metaphor of the working body as a human motor. From nineteenth-century theories of thermodynamics and political economy to the twentieth-century ideals of Taylorism and Fordism, Rabinbach demonstrates how the utopian obsession with energy and fatigue shaped social thought across the ideological spectrum.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 414 pages
  • Publisher: University of California Press (7 Oct 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0520078276
  • ISBN-13: 978-0520078277
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.5 x 2.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 528,587 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"Rabinbach has performed a major feat of historical reconstruction. "The Human Motor is a skillful and theoretically informed synthesis of social and intellectual history."--Jackson Lears, "The New Republic

About the Author

Anson Rabinbach is Professor in the Department of the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University and author of The Crisis of Austrian Socialism (Chicago, 1983).

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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Terrific Analysis of Labor and Fatigue 17 July 2013
By Pundit - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Provides a detailed historical perspective with documentation, of western Europe's fixation with the study of fatigue, productivity. For work physiologists, this is a must read as it provides the foundational basis for present day laboratory procedures and research directions.
0 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good amount of historical human thermodynamic trivia. 17 Nov 2009
By Libb Thims - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The book is similar in theme and content to Mirowski's 1989 More Heat than Light (albeit less technically rigorous), containing interesting trivia tidbits, e.g. that German mathematician Carl Neumann, the first to introduce the d-hat derivative symbol for inexact differentials (1875), had views on how economic life related to energetic components of energy exchanges between people. Here's a short bio on Rabinbach:


He states that the book originated from a 1993 paper he wrote.
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