The Roots of Progress

Energy: A Human History

Richard Rhodes

A history of the industrial use of energy, from the rise of coal mining in 1600s England to the atomic age. Covers topics including the early oil and gas industry, the first pipelines, the first hydroelectric plant at Niagara Falls, and the development of nuclear power.

I enjoyed this book a lot. The story is told concisely and is therefore powerful, and the author describes problems and solutions more consistently and clearly than most. However, it still suffers from the same problem as most history books in being a “laundry list” of topics without a strong central storyline or overview; as such the material is difficult to retain and I am left with many questions. (But that’s why this blog exists.)

Recommended for anyone with an interest in the history of technology.

Relevant posts

Science and steam

Early cars: gas, electric & steam

When innovation hits “snooze”

The significance of electricity

One man's junk

When life was literally full of crap

Get the book

Amazon (affiliate link), WorldCat

Other books by Richard Rhodes

The Making of the Atomic Bomb