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Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Hardcover with dust jacket, light wear on DJ and book, pages are clean
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Boilerplate: History's Mechanical Marvel Hardcover – October 1, 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Paul Guinan and Anina Bennett have been collaborating on comics and graphic novels since 1989, including the Eisner Award–nominated science-fiction comic series Heartbreakers. Paul is an artist and writer whose clients include the History Channel and the Cartoon Network. Anina is a writer and editor who has worked with Dark Horse Comics and international publisher Egmont. They live in Portland, Oregon.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810989506
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810989504
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 1 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #848,505 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Scott H. Smith on October 8, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Guinan and Bennett create an entire world here, an alternate universe in which a talking robot designed to fight the wars of men can be lost to history. Every part of the story is researched and couched in reality, so the effect is disorienting and transporting. Meanwhile, the authors are exploring issues of technology, fame, warfare, communications, and more. The illustrations and Photoshop work are brilliant. Great work... I recommend it highly.
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Format: Hardcover
In retrospect the below "Hoax" review may be the most positive compliment paid to this book.

The fact that this book is so well executed, so convincing that a person will ignore common sense, a basic grounding in history and even the slightest knowledge of engineering to believe that Boilerplate was real only attests to the skill, talent and vision of the artist.
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Format: Hardcover
Despite the comment by J Stonebraker, who could quite possibly be a complete idiot, this is a great book. Yes, it is a work of historical fiction, but it is an incredibly detailed, beautifully executed work of fiction.
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Format: Hardcover
I genuinely feel pity for the person who returned this book as a hoax, but what a brilliant compliment to this masterful mix of fact and fiction. The author has created an alternate history that is so real and so compelling that any acknowledgment or wink-wink clues as to its fantasy would have taken away from it. It stays in character without deviation. This genre is so entertaining and fascinating (when done right), and especially in this case, where the fantasy only makes up 10% of it and you suddenly realize how much you've learned about actual history while being entertained. (If you're rusty on your history, re-learning about all the incredible events of the 1893-1917 era is worth the price of admission by itself.)

I found this book quite by accident when the author's booth at WonderCon was my family's last stop of the long, tiring day. It only took a moment of scanning through this stunning, high-quality book to understand its genius. Although I find the robot's face to be personally creepy, the concept, story, history, illustration, layout, and photo compositing are simply outstanding. I have never seen a higher quality book. If you like steam-punk, history, sci-fi, mockumentaries, fiction-as-reality, illustration, or high-concept, BUY THIS BOOK. It's a steal at Amazon's price. It's also endlessly entertaining, EDUCATIONAL, and inspirational. Bravo.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Boilerplate is an ambitious book, rich with detail that makes the story feel about as real as anything you can get from a history book. Guinan and Bennett have constructed an alternate history which lies so close to the real thing that I promise you you'll be checking Google and Wikipedia to see if what they're saying is true or not. I'm still not entirely sure that Boilerplate, the robot, didn't exist. He appears, Zelig-like, in photo after photo with historical figures and yet blends into the background as if he was nothing very much out of the ordinary. The main reason for the brilliance of this book is the deft way the visuals are handled. The text itself is a bit dry, though it does have a history-book feel to it which works well under the circumstances. If pastiche was the intention, then it's well done.

But the book isn't just a wonderful fantasy. Folded into the history is a pointed commentary on subjects which are still pertinent a century later. Boilerplate is a mute witness to to early movements for workers' and women's rights. It fights alongside the Buffalo Soldiers and sees action in the Philippine-American War, Spanish-American War and WWI, fighting both in the trenches and with T. E. Lawrence, in Arabia. While the narrative never becomes preachy, only a fairly obtuse reader could fail to understand the point of history as it's presented here. This is not a book likely to appeal to people whose beliefs run to the right of the political spectrum.

"Robot", a word not in existence when Boilerplate itself was supposed to have been created, derives from a word that means "forced labor." (Karel Capek, R.U.R., 1920) Even the name, "Boilerplate" suggests a kind of non-existence, something that only serves as a model for the real thing.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
History is often made by unknown individuals, with credit going to those who happen to be in positions of authority. This is somewhat the case with the automaton who is the subject of this book. Supposedly constructed the early 1890's for the purpose of replacing human soldiers, and unveiled in 1893 at the Chicago Worlds Fair, the robot traveled the world with his inventor and participated in many of significant historical events of the era.

Like Forrest Gump, Boilerplate rubs shoulders with the movers and shakers of his time, and was well known to his contemporaries, but came to be largely forgotten after he was no longer in the public eye.

The excellence of this book is illustrated by the fact that significant numbers of readers don't realize it is a work of fiction. Hundreds of "archival" images "prove" that the robot served with Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders, Lawrence of Arabia, and General Pershing, pursued Pancho Villa through northern Mexico, and traveled to the Antarctic and to the Yukon. Every photograph, dime-novel cover, hand-tinted postcard, movie poster and newspaper caricature is perfectly done in the appropriate style of the era. Boilerplate's existence is thus better "documented" than any character in classical fiction or for that matter, anyone in the Bible.

The book is actually a history lesson of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, made so much more interesting by seeing them through the eyes of Archibald Campion, the robot's inventor.
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