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Encyclopedia of 20th-Century Technology Hardcover – November 17, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-1579583866 ISBN-10: 1579583865 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8 Up–With about 400 articles from "Absorbent Materials" to "X-Rays in Diagnostic Medicine," this ambitious resource aims to survey all of the technology that had a mass impact on human society in the 20th century. The entries, averaging about 1000 words each, are mostly factual discussions of specific topics, with more generalized essays, such as "Gender and Technology" and "Technology and Ethics," occasionally stirred in. Each entry contains "see" references and further reading, plus, rarely, a diagram or black-and-white photo. Though well meant, this resource, with its unappealing format and occasionally outdated information (Japan's Nozomi space probe is mentioned, but not its December 2003 abandonment, for instance) makes, at best, a supplementary choice next to the mainstay McGraw-HillEncyclopedia of Science and Technology (2002).–John Peters, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

In this encyclopedia on the technology that significantly affected people in industrial societies in the twentieth century, entries fall within six broad areas: food, leisure, homes, health, work, and interrelations. The emphasis is on technologies that influenced people's lives rather than twentieth-century technological inventions; often technology exists for decades before evolving into something serviceable. Thus, expect to find entries on things like Dishwashers, for which patents were first filed in the mid-nineteenth century but that became devices with widespread use in the mid-twentieth century.

Written by scholars, the 400 alphabetically arranged entries are objective, 1,000-word narratives on individual technologies, objects, systems, or products. Coverage is heaviest in the areas of computers (Computers, analog; Global Positioning System; World Wide Web); health and medicine (Antibiotics, use after 1945; Dentistry; Intensive care and life support); and transportation (Air traffic control systems; Automobiles; Transport, foodstuffs). A further reading list of monographs, periodicals, and Internet sites follows each entry, as do see also references. There are 30 longer survey entries that explore broader questions of technological systems, such as Agriculture and food and Energy and power.

The scope is international, and the language, while sophisticated, is generally free enough of technical jargon for the serious student. Occasional black-and-white illustrations help to clarify the text. The index, however, is too broad. Names are largely excluded, as in the case of Dolly, the cloned sheep. Dolly is not indexed at all, and the closest subject in the index, cloning-animals, only references one of multiple relevant entries.

Topics such as artificial intelligence, mass spectrometry, and nanotechnology are also covered in any standard science and technology encyclopedia, including, for example, the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology (9th ed., McGraw-Hill, 2002) and Van Nostrand's Scientific Encyclopedia (9th ed., Wiley, 2003). Still, this set offers some unique content and emphasizes the humanistic element of technology. It is probably closest in scope to The Cutting Edge: An Encyclopedia of Advanced Technologies (Oxford, 2000), which features only 102 less-detailed entries on newsworthy technology and its impact on everyday life but at a much cheaper price. The Facts On File Encyclopedia of Science, Technology, and Society (1999) is also somewhat similar, but it lacks satisfactory further reading lists. Recommended for academic and large public libraries. Susan Gardner
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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