David Nye casts his bright light on everything from assembly lines to washing machines, from the plummeting price of urban electricity to the usefulness of electric incubators in chicken farming...Mr. Nye succeeds not simply because he knows his technology, but also because be understands the complexity of American culture...[He] has the breadth of knowledge and the good sense to see the significance in paintings like Edward Hopper's 'Nighthawks'...and to weave such observations into the very armature of his argument that electricity transformed not only American life but the American self.(John R. Stilgoe New York Times Book Review)
"Nye undertakes the monumental, and previous uncompleted, task of examining the social transformations that a new source of energy initiated. The result is a highly sophisticated and innovative account which crosses over several disciplinary lines."(Dwight W. hoover, Director, Center for Middletown Studies, Ball State University)
"David Nye has provided what has so often been lacking in the history of new technologies - a sustained and comprehensive analysis of electricity's social and cultural impact. From factory to household, from trolley line to exposition, and from rural hamlet to Great White Way, Nye explores both how people selectively employed electricity to change their lives and how they constructed and reconstructed its cultural 'meaning.' Through absorbing details and casr studies, Nye affords us an intimate view of the "public relations" and personal relevance of electricity as it was incorporated into the everyday life of individual families, of mushrooming cities, and of the entire nation."(Rolan Marchand, Professor of History, University of California, Davis. Author of Advertising the American Dream)
"David Nye is pioneering a new kind of technological history by showing how social and cultural systems shape technological ones. This is a wide-ranging, provocative study."(Rosalind Williams, Associate Professor, Humanities Dept., MIT)
"Nye tells a compelling story of how people react to a new technology when they see the potential for both personal and social transformation. As a Tennessee farmer said in 1930--'The greatest thing on earth is to have the love of God in your heart and the next greatest thing is to have electricity in your home.' This is a delight."(G. Terry Sharrer, Curator of Agriculture, Smithsonian Institution)
"David Nye, in Electrifying America, continues to provide leadership in integrating material culture with the traditional focus of American Studies on the realm of symbolic meaning."(David W. Nobble, Professor of American Studies and History, University of Minnesota)
About the Author
David E. Nye teaches American history at the University of Copenhagen. He has published books on Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, as well as Image Worlds, a study of photography and corporate identities at General Electric.