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Comment: Withdrawn library item. Limited marks/labels. Binding threatens to come apart between pages 156-7. Clean, reasonably crisp pages. Cover and DJ have moderate surface and edge wear.
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Against the Machine: The Hidden Luddite Tradition in Literature, Art, and Individual Lives Hardcover – October 1, 2002

ISBN-13: 978-1559638609 ISBN-10: 1559638605 Edition: 2nd

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Island Press; 2 edition (October 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1559638605
  • ISBN-13: 978-1559638609
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,505,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"[Fox] carefully and convincingly makes her case that there have always been reasonable, indeed often brilliant, people who were not at all sure that technology was solving more problems than it created."
(Harper's Magazine)

"Against the Machine is timely, compelling, and important. Its intellectual sweep extends from the transcendental to the transistor, covering much unfamiliar ground and reviving a long-neglected tradition of dissent."
(Eric Schlosser author of Fast Food Nation)

"Against the Machine is luminous, lyrical, impassioned, profound. I had to put the book down every few paragraphs and breathe in relief."

About the Author

Nicols Fox, an independent journalist for more than 20 years, has written on subjects ranging from emerging pathogens to the nature of laughter. She is the author of Spoiled: Why Our Food is Making Us Sick (BasicBooks, 1997) and It Was Probably Something You Ate (Penguin, 1999). She has appeared on numerous television programs, has written regularly for The Economist, and her articles, essays, and book reviews have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and USA Today.

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Customer Reviews

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As a place to start asking those questions, this book is highly recommended!
William Timothy Lukeman
"Preserving American's wild land against the utilitarian view and its conjoined twin, economic reality, is the same battle the Luddites fought," Ms. Fox writes.
Earl Brechlin
I'd like to think we have the ability to say, "Enough! We don't always need more."
Laurie Meunier Graves

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Laurie Meunier Graves on March 3, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As I read "Against the Machine: The Hidden Luddite Tradition in Literature, Art and Individual Lives" by Nicols Fox, I was aware of an interesting paradox. In its essence, "Against the Machine" charts the rise of the machine from the Industrial Revolution to the present and explores the resistance of workers (the original Luddites), writers, artists, and thinkers to this development. While attempting to be fair minded (and, for the most part, succeeding), Ms. Fox asks whether we have lost more than we have gained. For years, I have wondered the same thing, and I found myself in complete sympathy with Ms. Fox. Yet without machines, and their father-technology-"Against the Machine" would not exist. From its subject matter to its actual physical state-that is, of being a book-"Against the Machine" is totally dependent on machines.
What's a neo-Luddite to do? One option is to buy an island off the coast of Maine, build a small cabin, and live as simply as possible with no electricity, telephone, or central heating. In the first chapter of "Against the Machine," Ms. Fox writes of Nan and Arthur Kellam, who did that very thing. As Nan put it, "[they wanted] to leave behind the battle for non-essentials and the burden of abundance to build in the beauty of this million-masted island a simple home and an uncluttered life." And this they did for forty years. The story ends sadly. Arthur dies, and Nan becomes ill and has to leave their beloved island. Yet, isn't that how all stories inevitably end? No one lasts forever. In the meantime, Nan and Arthur Kellam lived lightly and simply and deliberately.
What modern-day commuter, racing between work, home, errands, and children, hasn't longed for at least some measure of the Kellams' peaceful lives?
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Earl Brechlin on December 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Always harbored some suspicion about the "march of technology?"
The author of Against the Machine, The Hidden Luddite Tradition in Literature, Art, and Individual Lives, wants to share with you the reason why.
Bass Harbor, Maine author Nicols Fox, who shocked the nation and the world with revelations on bacterial contamination in processed food in her expose, "Spoiled," begins with the social forces that prompted Ned Ludd and his followers to take up arms and traces humanity's love-hate relationship with technology across the next two centuries. Along the way she discovers a deep and broad suspicion about mechanization, industrialization and globalization that permeates art, literature, and politics. As she points out there are many among us who worry, as writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau said, we are becoming "tools of our tools."
While for some people the premise of this book might make an interesting outline for a lengthy magazine piece, such as those in the Economist for which Ms. Fox frequently writes, she has taken it to the next level and beyond. She has conducted exhaustive research and a broad range of reading to weave together an impressive text that carries the thread of Luddism from those first violent clashes in the early 1800s, through the writings and works of famous artists such as William Blake, Rachael Carson, Edward Abbey, E.B. White, Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, David Brower, Edouard Manet, Charlie Chaplin, William Morris and John Muir.
Along the way Ms.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By RichardC on April 5, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Nicols Fox has pinpointed so many key items as to why modern life can be so frustrating for so many of us, and why it is so difficult for us to understand the reasons why.

One main reason is that the history of the 'machine control' goes back way before our own lifetimes, and so we are often unaware of what life might be like without that degree of machine control we all currently live with. The roots go back to the start of the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, where over-rationalised 'reason' and 'calculation' started to assume an increasing degree of respectability over moral values. The moral premise that just because you are powerful or 'able' to do something, you should not necessarily actually do it, effectively went out of the window. Children were sent down coal mines and were made to work in factories for 16 hours a day, and so on. It took Acts of Parliament to eventually outlaw such extreme examples of control, but the overwhelming force to treat people simply as calculated units of production continued. We see the machine operating in everyday life today, where so-called "restaurants" (some fast-food joints) are more similar to factories, and where the staff have their hand movements calculated down to the 1/10th of a second and their words exchanged with customers often have to come from a script. Human input is no longer required by so many workers, simply the mechanistic following of prescribed steps to the nth degree, a wholly dehumanising process.

This dehumanisation of people can lead to frustration, anger, or even violence, with people really not understanding why. It also leads to a society where people as consumers have become totally dependent or "addicted" to factory-made items which their parents used to produce themselves.
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