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Watt's Perfect Engine: Steam and the Age of Invention (Revolutions in Science) Hardcover – 16 Jul 2015

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (16 July 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231131720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231131728
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 10.8 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,075,886 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

An informative and well-organized introduction to Watt... Recommended [for] general readers, lower-division undergraduates, and two-year technical program students. Choice Marsden declaims on the steam engine's putative inventor in a half-bemused, half-impressed tone that will amuse technology buffs in addition to giving them an appreciation for Watt's significance... Crystal clear on technical points, Marsden is archly amusing in discussing how reputations are made. Booklist A lively historical coverage of how the engine evolved and reflected not only the promise, but the problems of the industrial revolution. A fine, wide-ranging history. Bookwatch An engagingly written little book. Eighteenth-Century Scotland

About the Author

Ben Marsden is a lecturer in cultural history and the history of science at the University of Aberdeen.

Inside This Book

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Greenock was a small seaport and ship-building town on Clydeside, 25 miles from Glasgow in the west of Scotland. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Simon on 11 Sept. 2003
Format: Hardcover
The author gives an interesting account of Watt's life and struggles. Perhaps the most fascinating part is the way that Watt went about his business in a most scientific way - not merely a process of trial and error.
This book does not fall into the trap of hero-worshipping the engineering genius of Watt solely, but also examines the negative side of his character.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone interested in the history of engineering. The subject is especially engaging because the steam engine was the pivotal invention of the industrial revolution.
If I were to offer criticism, it is not really of the author: The small format of the book does not lend itself to showing detailed diagrams, and some of the drawings were too small to view properly. Proper diagrams and photographs would have amplified the text considerably with a technical subject such as this. Hence 4 stars and not 5.
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By josh on 27 Aug. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My parents suggested i read some books about engineers before i settled on my engineering course at university, this book is a good read if you are interested in general knowledge about the history of engineering...
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By Scot on 4 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Excellent.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
[Very] sharp elbows 4 Mar. 2005
By W Boudville - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Four men were responsible for starting the Industrial Revolution. Newcomen, Trevithick, Stevenson and Watt. Yet today, we measure power in Watts, not Trevithicks or anything else. Of the four, James Watt is the best remembered. How did this come about? Was he perhaps the greatest of them? Marsden takes us back two centuries to answer this.

From Marsden's narrative, Newcomen seems the more perceptive inventor, compared to Watt. Yet we see how Watt had a driving passion for business that led to great success. Quite possibly, some of his methods may attract ire nowadays. But Henry Ford and other industrialists would no doubt have found much in Watt to be understandable and commendable.

Marsden suggests that Watt's tenacious enforcing of his patents may have stifled development of improvements to the steam engine. Perhaps. But even so, consider this. Any such impediment would have the advantage to Britain in other fields of invention. For it would show that patents were highly enforceable. A strong patent environment may have contributed to Britain's industrial lead, that lasted a century. So even if Watt's methods led to a tactical slowdown, strategically it bolstered Britain. Keep in mind that prior to the Industrial Revolution, throughout most of previous history, there was no such thing as patent protection. So innovations were often kept secret, if this was practical. Keeping progress glacially slow.
Steam 12 Mar. 2013
By Hope S. Edwards - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is a brief description of Watt's life and his contribution to steam power and the revolution it created at the time. This book is "lite" on most of the details and even thought the author tries to appear unbiased, I feel he comes off as being cynical.
The book was shipped fast! It is a required ... 10 Sept. 2014
By vedant goyal - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book was shipped fast! It is a required reading for my course and I save a few bucks with this purchase.
3 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A lively historical coverage of how the engine evolved 14 April 2005
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
James Watt's name has become well known as the inventor of the light bulb; but it was the steam engine which also earned him fame - and which did not come about due to his single-handed genius. The development, function and role of the 'perfect engine' during his times in England is revealed in Ben Marsden's Watt's Perfect Engine: Steam And The Age Of Invention, a lively historical coverage of how the engine evolved and reflected not only the promise, but the problems of the Industrial Revolution. A fine, wide-ranging history.
4 of 10 people found the following review helpful
umm...Thomas Edison invented the light bulb. 20 Feb. 2006
By A. Graciano - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Watt did not invent the light bulb. Watt did not invent the steam engine either. He improved it and helped spread its applicability to industry. He was an important member of the Lunar Society with his partner, Matthew Boulton, as well as Erasmus Darwin, John Whitehurst, James Small, etc. Another good book to get is Jenny Uglow's The Lunar Men (?), which is about this circle of interesting guys.
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