In This Issue
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In This Issue

The July issue leads with essays by Leo Marx and Francesca Bray, scholars whose work has influenced interpretations of technological practice for decades within and well beyond the ordinary scope of T&C's readership.

Ruth Oldenziel, Eric Schatzberg, and Ronald Kline all opened their contributions to T&C's "Technology" theme issue (July 2006) with references to Leo Marx's 1964 classic, The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America. No surprise here. The Machine in the Garden broke completely new ground by calling attention to an a obsession already embedded in popular and elite rhetoric by the mid-nineteenth century: a dream of American progress fueled by the nation's inventive energy. Building on this earlier work, Marx ("Technology: The Emergence of a Hazardous Concept," pp. 561–77) concentrates on a striking linguistic innovation: the word "technology" as a proper noun, endowed with an agency that would gather the welter of America's nineteenth- and twentieth-century creative energies and bond them into a single transcendent force. Marx asks how we can "identify the specific changes that prompted the emergence of technology—the concept, the word, the purported thing itself? My assumption is that those changes, whatever they were, created a semantic—indeed, a conceptual—void, which is to say, an awareness of certain novel developments in society and culture for which no adequate name had yet become available" (p. 563). Like other keywords, the very sweetness of fit between an intense cultural urgency and an effective term to name that urgency—Marx's semantic void—brings with it hazards that call for the kind of careful historical analysis for which Leo Marx is rightly famous.

A final note. For this year's annual SHOT meeting, T&C's editorial team invited Gwen Bingle, Cyrus Mody, and Fred Turner to discuss Marx's essay from the perspective of each person's distinctive research interest. We invite T&C's readers to join us in Tacoma.

A T&C invitation to review a given book sometimes evolves into an essay whose scope transcends the book in question. Such was the case with Francesca Bray's review of Simon Winchester's biography of Joseph Needham ("How Blind Is Love? Simon Winchester's The Man Who Loved China," pp. 578–88). We found that Bray's deft critique of Winchester's work proved less memorable than her use of the book as the basis for revisiting Needham the person and Needham the scholarly enterprise. "The true magic of SCC [Science and Civilization in China]—invisible in Winchester's account—lies in Needham's detailed and precise attention to the mechanics, or the organics as the case may be, of mills, alchemical procedures, medical therapeutics, or algebraic calculations.… Needham embeds technical devices or scientific ideas in a conceptual and cultural matrix" (p. 584). Needham, Bray observes, had bigger fish to fry than his occasional lapses into China-triumphalism suggest: "the story Needham set out to tell in Science and Civilization in China was intensely political, and it was not just about China. Its premises radically challenged foundational beliefs about Western superiority and manifest destiny: modern science and technology, argued Needham, were not the products of uniquely rational Western minds but incorporated fundamental contributions from human societies around the world. This is why he referred to modern science not as "Western" but as "oecumenical" (p. 588). T&C readers might want to commemorate this year's forty-second anniversary of Needham's Leonardo da Vinci Medal by taking Bray's essay to some quiet place to ponder Needham's still-compelling vision of scientific and technological practice as embedded in a cultural fabric intimate in texture and global in scope.

John DiMoia's "Atoms for Sale? Cold War Institution-Building and the South Korean Atomic Energy Project, 1945–1965" (pp. 589–618) provides further welcome evidence that the geographical scope of T&C authors and referees continues to expand beyond SHOT/ [End Page a] T&C's Western Civilization origins. DiMoia explores the U.S. Atoms for Peace program as South Korea's war with North Korea propelled it to front-line status in America's...


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