Saturday, April 9, 2011

Reading update

It's been busy for me, so I've been a slow reader - but I just finished Forged Consensus, a history of science and technology policy between 1920 and 1951. It was written by a political scientist, which gave it an interesting style. It read kind of like a history book but it had a lot of talk of coalition building and policy entrepreneurs and policy levers, etc., that I'm not as used to. But it provided a great background and had some interesting material on the role that Keynesians in the administration played in science and technology policy in the 40s and 50s.

I'm starting George Taber's Judgement of Paris, about the 1976 Paris wine tasting where a California red and a California white beat out the French competition. They made a great movie out of the competition in 2008 called Bottle Shock


  1. Does the former book go into a lot of detail about Vannevar Bush?

  2. Yep - he played a big role in it.

  3. Yeah, much of what we think of the internet came straight out of the head of Vannevar by the amalgamation of the ideas of others into the notion of the "Memex." He also opposed "Project Paperclip" - much to his credit IMO. He was also heavily involved in early research on "UFOs" for a variety of governments. I've always assumed that at least some of the shadowy figures (the more savory ones that is) in the X-Files were based on part of Vannevar's biography.

    He figured prominently in a "Politics & Science" course I took as an undergraduate.

  4. Why much to his credit?

    They didn't go all that much into project paperclip surprisingly, and only mentioned ICBMs in passing - which was interesting because the military did play a big role in the book.

  5. It depends on what one thinks of inviting Axis scientists into the country - or the use of their research (particularly the stuff regarding human experiments). Vannevar worried about their influence on a liberal society - I concur. He was courageous enough to say something about it at the time, which won him no friends.

    I just read "The World Rushed In" (about the California gold rush) and re-read "Seven Years in Tibet." I am now re-reading Montesquieu's "Spirit of the Laws."


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