You must read this book if you have the least interest in American history, especially that of the Midwest and Northeast in the early 1800s. You might think that you're not interested in the manufacture of mass-produced furniture in Cincinnati in the 1820s or the development of canals in New York state or steamship travel on the Mississippi. But the details of American's world-shaking pursuit of producing manufactured goods in the early 1800s reinforces the stories we've always heard about the American psyche: We come from innovative, hard-working, creative, pushy ancestors who took full advantage of unlimited water, wood, and mineral resources to create unheard-of industrialization.
Partly as a reaction to the blockades and taxes of the English, England's almost complete control of the market for goods, and the War of 1812, this country rebelled, looked around, and discovered it could mass-produce its own goods. Water power was everywhere, forests were there for the taking, minerals were hiding beneath the top soil, slave power was available, and immigrants' energy and independence were bursting at the seams.
The first chapter, about the War of 1812 battles between English and American ships on Lakes Erie and Ontario, serves as an introduction to the marvels of shipbuilding in a country which barely had a navy. The following chapters jump quickly into the fascinating development of America's great experiment: mass-production.
(Of special interest if you're buying a digital book [Kindle]: I bought this book on Nov. 21 for $9.57. Kindle is now charging $15.94. The hardback edition is still $19.)