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The Gilded Age: Perspectives on the Origins of Modern America (2007)

This essay by technology historian Carlson is probably the best 25-page summation of the subject for a quick overview of technological change (broadly defined to include techniques of organization and management) within a social and cultural context.

Paul Israel, Edison: A Life of Invention (1997)

Edison was the definitive innovator of the period, and Israel is his definitive biographer. This is a long read, but understanding Edison and his career goes a long way towards understanding the process of innovation in the late nineteenth century.

Gary Cross and Rick Szostak, Technology and American Society (1995)

This one's a textbook style, go-to reference for the facts. Not much fun but does a fair job with the history and goes into greater detail about the workings of the technologies themselves than some breezier sources.

Edward Bellamy, Looking Backward: 2000-1887 (1888)

Bellamy's classic bestseller captured the anxiety and the optimism of the Gilded Age and introduced thousands of readers to socialist economics by way of science fiction. His vision of the future seems a little creepily authoritarian now, but the book remains a foundation of American technological utopianism and spawned scores of lesser imitators.

The Gilded Age: Perspectives on the Origins of Modern America (2007)

Another slim essay in this great new collection: Barrows gives a quick account of the forces that determined and features that characterized American urbanization. Barrows offers plenty of great figures on the development of infrastructure for anyone who has ever wondered just how quickly services from the telephone to sewage treatment spread.

Andrea Gabor, The Capitalist Philosophers (2000)

A Times business writer, Gabor has a deep knowledge but a pretty light touch. She opens this book with an accessible, informative, and interesting take on Frederick Taylor that will give anyone a solid grounding of his ideas and immeasurable influence in just 40 easy pages.

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