Robertson's Book of Firsts: Who Did What for the First Time

Overview

Patrick Robertson's compendium of inventions, breakthroughs, and other "first" events is a stunning achievement of over fifty years of research, collecting, and writing. Robertson writes with charm and fluency on a massive range of topics-the first computer, the first department store, the first black head of state (it's not who you think), and a seemingly limitless array of others. The United States, in particular, has been a cradle of innovation-44 percent of modern innovations, by his calculation-and Robertson...

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Robertson's Book of Firsts: Who Did What for the First Time

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Overview

Patrick Robertson's compendium of inventions, breakthroughs, and other "first" events is a stunning achievement of over fifty years of research, collecting, and writing. Robertson writes with charm and fluency on a massive range of topics-the first computer, the first department store, the first black head of state (it's not who you think), and a seemingly limitless array of others. The United States, in particular, has been a cradle of innovation-44 percent of modern innovations, by his calculation-and Robertson has identified a first time in America for each entry. Comprehensive yet carefully curated, Robertson's Book of Firsts catalogs watershed events of social relevance. It includes major achievements, like the first women to serve in a regular army (bravo, Canada, and would you believe as early as 1906?), but not mere curiosities, like the first women to serve disguised as men. The result is a catalog of useful inventions and beginnings of trends, an index of American and global culture of a kind you can't get anywhere else. Handsomely designed, elegant, and effortless to read, this is both a work of essential reference and a beautiful gift for history buffs, scientists, inventors, and anyone with an inquiring mind.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Targeting "firsts" that have had an impact on world society and culture, Robertson's (Shell Book of Firsts; Film Facts) work represents more than 50 years of dedicated research. The A-to-Z entries cover a wide range of topics and result in enjoyable browsing. Readers will learn, for example, that the first popcorn "was not, as legend has it, introduced to the pilgrims by friendly native Americans" but probably brought to the United States by early American sailors returning from Chile and that the first subway (1863) was London's four-mile Metropolitan Railway, which is now part of the London Underground. BOTTOM LINE This informative and entertaining one-volume ready-reference tool is presented at a price that makes it well worth consideration. It is more exhaustive than Joseph Kane's Famous First Facts, which limits its focus to the United States. Recommended for high school and public library history buffs, fact fanatics, or casual readers with an interest in noteworthy achievements.—Bobbie Wrinkle, McCracken Cty. P.L., Paducah, KY
School Library Journal
Gr-9 Up—Robertson has conducted decades of research to compile facts on countless firsts with the goal of focusing on innovation. The alphabetically arranged topics, many of which offer stunning information, cover a wide variety of breakthroughs, including the first: country to legalize abortion, apartment house, black college student, chewing gum, heroin, Internet, naval action, public library, telephone, weather forecasts, and female author to have a volume of prose published in this country. Within most topics, the subject is additionally subdivided. For example, "Ice Cream" discusses ice-cream sundaes, cones, Eskimo Pies, and soft-serve ice cream. The lively entries vary from a paragraph to a page or two in length, and many end with cross references. Guide words head each page and subject entries are in bold type. This unusual volume covers many curiosities as well as curriculum-related subjects and will serve admirably as a springboard for discussion and research.—Beth McGuire, Hempfield Area School District, Greensburg, PA
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781596915794
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
  • Publication date: 11/8/2011
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 858,478
  • Product dimensions: 7.70 (w) x 9.50 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Patrick Hickman Robertson began compiling his collection of firsts fifty years ago at the age of fourteen. He continued his extensive research in the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa before settling down to a career at the BBC's cutting library. The first incarnation of this book, The Shell Book of Firsts, appeared in the UK in 1974 and became an immediate bestseller. Robertson has been a Visiting Scholar the University of North Carolina, a former chairman of the Ephemera Society, and owns the largest private collection of vintage magazines in Britain.

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