Jun 26, 2008

This very cool new book came across my desk the other day.  To be certain, it was accompanied by a few good reviews (like they ever put bad ones on dust jackets!), but what surprised me was the enthusiastic response I got from my friends when I shared it with them.  I guess I thought I was the only gadget geek out there, or at least the only one with enough of a literary bent to get all excited about a book devoted to strange and eccentric doohickeys.  But no.  Everyone, right down to my lovely fiancee who denigrates my store of useless knowledge at every turn, gushed about Gadget Nation.  “I love this sort of stuff- I can’t wait to get it!”  “This is right up my alley.  Thanks, bro” “This looks realy cool, honey.  Did you buy it for me yet? (not yet, but I sense an anniversary present in her future)(just kidding, sweetheart)”

True authorities have been just as impressed with Gadget Nation.  “Gadget Nation is the most enjoyably reassuring book I’ve read in years.  Here is the quirky spirit of American Ingenuity that goes back to Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, still alive and well, still passionately dreaming and tinkering in their workshops …” says Charles Osgood, anchor of CBS News Sunday Morning and The Osgood File.  Louis J.Foreman, executive producer of PBS’s Everyday Edisons and publisher of Inventors’ Digest, says this: “Gadget Nation does a wonderful job of exploring some of these inventions and the stories behind the ideas, reinforcing the fact that we are a nation of innovators, thinkers, and tinkerers. Where would we be without them?”

What’s notable about these two quotes- and what drives the wide appeal of this book, I think- is the emphasis on how uniquely American invention and innovation is.  Though perhaps not exclusively American, those traits (as Mr. Osgood and Mr. Foreman identify) have a central place in our collective consciousness; they’re as integral to the American entrepreneurial ideal as hard work and opportunity. It speaks to ‘firstness’ and ‘trailblazing’ and standing behind your idea, to the heroism of the little guy with a dream and his own two hands.

Clearly, Steve Greenberg had these things in mind when he penned Gadget Nation.  Though the “Ashhole” may not appear, prima facie, to embody these high-minded traits, the process of creating it certainly does.  And Mr. Greenberg is eager to point this out- which is what makes this book a facinating read.

I encourage anyone out there to visit the website, and get your own copy.  It’ll make a great anniversary gift.

(Not that we’re shilling, but you can buy Gadget Nation here)


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