Engineering & Transportation
  • List Price: $47.00
  • Save: $2.35 (5%)
Only 19 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by
Gift-wrap available.
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Acceptable | Details
Sold by Bookbyte123
Condition: Used: Acceptable
Comment: Orders ship the same or next business day. Expedited shipping within U.S. will arrive in 3-5 days. Hassle free 14 day return policy. Contact Customer Service for questions. All text is legible, may contain markings, cover wear, loose/torn pages or staining and much writing. SKU:9780801846144-5-0
Access codes and supplements are not guaranteed with used items.
Sell yours for a Gift Card
We'll buy it for $5.44
Learn More
Trade in now
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880-1930 (Softshell Books) Paperback – March 1, 1993

ISBN-13: 978-0801846144 ISBN-10: 0801846145 Edition: Reprint

Buy New
Price: $44.65
17 New from $40.65 17 Used from $31.10
Amazon Price New from Used from
"Please retry"
$40.65 $31.10
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"

Frequently Bought Together

Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880-1930 (Softshell Books) + Electrifying America: Social Meanings of a New Technology, 1880-1940
Price for both: $77.90

Buy the selected items together

Best Books of the Year
Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Product Details

  • Series: Softshell Books
  • Paperback: 488 pages
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press; Reprint edition (March 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801846145
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801846144
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 1.1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,042 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


An exciting, major contribution to the field of history, for it establishes very convincingly that the growth of... power networks is as intrinsic to and characteristic of modern society as the growth of manorialism was to medieval society.

(American Historical Review)

How the West was wired.

(Times Literary Supplement)

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 3 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Alan Lyscars on September 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
If you're a history buff, and appreciate the technology that surrounds us all, you'll love reading "Networks of Power: Electrification in Western Society, 1880-1930" by Tom Hughes. Hughes takes us back to the days of fierce rivalry between Edison and Westinghouse; the early era of electric power generation and consumption where the battle of DC vs. AC consumer power was born and decided.
Hughes doesn't stop there. Also included in this well-footnoted edition are in-depth narratives of the evolution of commercial power systems in England and Germany through 1930. A well written, readable snapshot in time.
Compelling historical reading for the non-technologist as well as the student of electrical power commercialization.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jason N. Palmer on July 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Thomas Hughes is professor emeritus at the University of Pennsylvania, and has been the Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, and the Royal Institute of Technology (Stockholm). He is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of Phi Beta Kappa. In 1985 he was awarded the Leonardo da Vinci Medal of the Society for the History of Technology for Networks of Power. In addition to Networks of Power, he has also published Rescuing Prometheus (1998) and Elmer Sperry: Inventor and Engineer (1993). With Agatha Hughes he edited Lewis Mumford: Public Intellectual (1990). Dr. Hughes completed his graduate work in European history at the University of Virginia.
In Networks of Power: Electrification of Western Society, 1880-1930, Thomas Hughes outlines his seminal theory of "Complex Systems." Hughes argues that "the most impressive patterns imposed on the world by men impelled by the force of constructive instincts [are] systems, coherent structures comprised of interacting, interconnected components." Hughes thoroughly investigates the development of electrical supply systems; in doing so, he exposes the "ordering, integrating, coordinating, and systematizing nature of modern human societies." In exposing these social and cultural influences, Hughes nails shut the coffin that is technological determinism. Several elements are key to Hughes' theory. Hughes introduces "reverse salients," "technological style," and "momentum."
A reverse salient is a problem that defies solution, while other (possibly related) problems in the system advance; the reverse salient is more descriptive than its technological equivalent-bottleneck.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By James Hoogerwerf on April 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
Electrical power is one of the key components, along with chemicals, steel and petroleum, of the second industrial revolution. Hughes focuses on complex electrical supply networks and the impact of society, or culture, on shaping technology. The title of his book is brilliant in its dual imagery of large electrical distribution systems and the social, economic, and political interplay necessary to create them.

Hughes begins by describing an element of Thomas Edison's inventive genius not commonly recognized by historians. Edison not only invented marvelous machines, he also invented what may be his most significant contribution, the electrical power system. Edison, an inventor-entrepreneur, saw that it was not enough to only have electric lighting. Electricity must be made widely available. He built the first network capable of distributing electrical power to the public. Generating power at the Pearl Street station, Edison introduced the concept of a central-station supply system electrifying a square mile area in New York City.

Hughes' model shows how electrical systems developed in general and then, expanding on his theme, he discusses regional variations in Berlin, London, and Chicago. The model begins with 1, an invention and its development at one site, then, 2, the technology transfers and expands into a larger system, which, 3, grows despite "reverse salients." A "reverse salient" is a problem of uneven systems growth which threatens the entire system An example is the uneconomic transmission of direct current over long distances which was eventually solved by the use of alternating current. (A "reverse salient," however, does not have to be technical in nature.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again