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A Thread Across the Ocean: The Heroic Story of the Transatlantic Cable 1st Printing Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
Most of us don't think twice about picking up the phone and reaching someone in Germany in a matter of seconds. We often forget that less than 150 years ago, if one wanted to do business in Europe, one got on a boat for two weeks because the only way to do business was in person. Perhaps the biggest force in making worldwide commerce relatively simple was the laying of the transatlantic cable in 1866, which made communication first via telegraph, then by phone possible. American Heritage writer Gordon (The Business of America) chronicles the quest to lay the cable, offering a fascinating account that will appeal to history buffs and businesspersons alike. On one level, it's a purely historical account of the battle to navigate the ocean's floor and to figure out not only what should be inside the cable but also how to keep it in place. On another level, by focusing on entrepreneur Cyrus Field, the author traces what was in essence a venture capital deal. He begins with Field gathering wealthy investors the initial funding was equal to 2.5% of the entire federal budget and ends, after 12 years and five distinct failures, with all of them striking it rich. This is an appealing account on both levels and an entertaining reminder of the storied past of expensive technology gambles. Illus.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From School Library Journal
Adult/High School-In this engaging history of the laying of the cable, Gordon conveys a keen sense of the mid-19th-century setting and the high drama of the venture. Superb documentation enhances the telling without distracting from the main story, and the text is accompanied by effective pen-and-ink illustrations. Begun in 1855, and necessitating a sustained level of cooperation among business, scientific, and political players in the face of disasters at sea, loss of capital, and, eventually, the stresses of the American Civil War, the enterprise's success is largely credited to American businessman Cyrus Field. His unflagging zeal, financial resourcefulness, and reputation for integrity as he worked in concert with entrepreneurs, inventors, engineers, lawyers, and statesmen on both sides of the Atlantic skillfully guided the project through four failed attempts before its completion in 1866. The project's technological challenges were equaled only by the optimism of the age and by the dedication of visionaries who foresaw the possibilities of what now seems commonplace, i.e., "real time" communication between the continents. This saga fills a niche by offering both economic history and a depiction of scientific inquiry during the Industrial Revolution.
Lynn Nutwell, Fairfax City Regional Library, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Conceived, organized and executed by American Cyrus Field and initiated by joint cooperation of the United States and Great Britain, due to the intervention of the American Civil War the cable's crossing would become an all British event. Underwritten, financed, manufactured and led by Britain's most successful capitalists and best scientific minds, the entire Western world, from the Missouri River in North America to the Volga in Russia learned of its 1866 completion almost simultaneously. The economic success of the venture was so significant that by 1870 five cables crossed the Atlantic in competition with each other! By the early 1900's there were fifteen.
The other reviewers are quite correct. The story line does wander but that is part of this book's charm. It is the story of one man's single mindedness, his ability to move thousands to complete a ten year project that would ultimately provide instant communication globally, eliminating distance and compressing time from months to seconds.
It is a legacy few people have ever been able to achieve.