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The first class at M.I.T. The last hope for a city in peril.
The acclaimed author of The Dante Club reinvigorates the historical thriller. Matthew Pearl’s spellbinding new novel transports readers to tumultuous nineteenth-century Boston, where the word “technology” represents a bold and frightening ...
The first class at M.I.T. The last hope for a city in peril.
The acclaimed author of The Dante Club reinvigorates the historical thriller. Matthew Pearl’s spellbinding new novel transports readers to tumultuous nineteenth-century Boston, where the word “technology” represents a bold and frightening new concept. The fight for the future will hinge on . . .
Boston, 1868. The Civil War may be over but a new war has begun, one between the past and the present, tradition and technology. On a former marshy wasteland, the daring Massachusetts Institute of Technology is rising, its mission to harness science for the benefit of all and to open the doors of opportunity to everyone of merit. But in Boston Harbor a fiery cataclysm throws commerce into chaos, as ships’ instruments spin inexplicably out of control. Soon after, another mysterious catastrophe devastates the heart of the city. Is it sabotage by scientific means or Nature revolting against man’s attempt to control it?
The shocking disasters cast a pall over M.I.T. and provoke assaults from all sides—rival Harvard, labor unions, and a sensationalistic press. With their first graduation and the very survival of their groundbreaking college now in doubt, a band of the Institute’s best and brightest students secretly come together to save innocent lives and track down the truth, armed with ingenuity and their unique scientific training.
Led by “charity scholar” Marcus Mansfield, a quiet Civil War veteran and one-time machinist struggling to find his footing in rarefied Boston society, the group is rounded out by irrepressible Robert Richards, the bluest of Beacon Hill bluebloods; Edwin Hoyt, class genius; and brilliant freshman Ellen Swallow, the Institute’s lone, ostracized female student. Working against their small secret society, from within and without, are the arrayed forces of a stratified culture determined to resist change at all costs and a dark mastermind bent on the utter destruction of the city.
Studded with suspense and soaked in the rich historical atmosphere for which its author is renowned, The Technologists is a dazzling journey into a dangerous world not so very far from our own, as the America we know today begins to shimmer into being.
Civil and Topographical Engineering
April 4, 1868
Its proud lines intermittently visible through the early morning fog, the Light of the East might have been the most carefree ship that ever floated into Boston. Some of the sailors, their bearded faces browned and peeling from too much sun, cracked the last rations of walnuts in their fists or under their boot heels, singing some ancient song about a girl left behind. After wild March winds, stormy seas, dangerous ports, backbreaking work, and all the extremes of experience, they’d be handed a good pay at port, then freed to lose it to the city’s myriad pleasures.
The navigator held the prow steady, his eye on his instruments, as they waited for the fog to disperse enough for their signal to be seen by the pilot boat. Although Boston Harbor stretched across seventy-five square miles, its channels had been so narrowed for purposes of defense that two large ships could not safely pass each other without the harbor pilot’s assistance.
The Light’s austere captain, Mr. Beal, strode the deck, his rare aura of high contentment amplified by the giddiness of his men. Beal could envision in his mind’s eye the pilot boat breaking through the fog toward them, the pilot dressed like an undertaker, saluting indifferently and relieving Beal—for once—of his burdens. Then would come the view of the stretches of docks and piers, the solid granite warehouses never quite large enough for all the foreign cargo brought in by the merchants, then beyond that the State House’s gold dome capping the horizon—the glittering cranium of the world’s smartest city.
In the last few years, with so many men returned from fighting the rebellion, even modest Boston merchants had become veritable industrialists, beset as they were by excess hands. This city had prided itself on its history from the time it was little more than a quaint village, but Beal was old enough to know how artificial its modern visage was. Hills that formerly sloped through the city had been flattened, their detritus used to fill in various necks and bays, the foundations for streets and new neighborhoods and wharves such as the one that soon would welcome them. He could remember when the Public Garden was plain mud marking Boston’s natural boundary.
A steam pipe bellowed from some unseen ship launching on its way or maybe, like them, gliding toward a journey’s end, and Beal felt a solemn comradeship with all unknown voyagers. As he glimpsed the crescent moon and thought he would soon have enough light even in this nasty fog to lay course, his pleasant reverie was broken by a bright light flashing low in the water. When the captain craned forward, a lifeboat caught in the current, right in the path of their prow, sprang out from the mist.
His lookout cried out while Beal seized his speaking trumpet and shouted orders to change course. A woman’s scream floated up. The schooner veered adroitly in efforts to avoid the small craft, but too late. The lifeboat’s passengers jumped for their lives as their boat split into pieces against the Light’s prow, the screaming woman thrusting a small child above the waves. To the shock of the captain, another obstacle broke through the dense curtain of fog on the schooner’s starboard side: a pleasure steamer, with its flags flying the signals of distress, and taking on water.
“Clear lower deck!” Beal shouted.
Light of the East had nowhere to go. The side of its hull grazed and then caught the stranded steamship, right through the forward bulkhead: Pipes snapped and scalding-hot steam rushed into the heavy air as the hold of the schooner was ripped open. Now it, too, took on water, fast.
Chaos reigned on and off the ships. Beal snapped an order to throw the cargo overboard and repeated it sharply when his men hesitated. If they didn’t unload right now, they would lose not only their profits, but also the ship and likely lives.
“Captain! There!” called his lookout.
Beal stared in astonishment from the railing as a stray breeze parted the fog. The wharf loomed ahead, but it was now clear they were approaching it from the wrong angle, parallel instead of perpendicular. Incredulously, the captain extended his spyglass. A bark flying British colors had wrecked against the tip of one of the piers and caught fire, while another schooner, marked the Gladiator, had drifted against the wharf, where its crew feverishly tried to tow it in. As he watched, fiery debris spread to the Gladiator’s sails, which an instant later were wreathed in flames.
At least half a dozen ships were visible in those few moments of clarity, and all were foundering in various states of distress across the once-orderly harbor, reverberating with shrieking whistles, bells, foghorns, and other desperate signals.
Beal frantically stumbled and slid on his way to the navigational instruments. The needle of the steering compass, held under glass by the wheel, spun around violently, as if bedeviled, while on his pocket compass the needle was 180 degrees off the mark—north was south. He’d sailed by these navigational instruments—finely tuned with the expertise of nineteen centuries—for his entire life as a seaman, and he knew there should be no way for them to fail all at once.
The pleasure steamer they had crashed into suddenly lurched forward with a boom. In seconds it was entirely underwater. Where it had been, a vortex opened, sucking under those already stranded in the water, and then spitting them out high into the air.
“To the lifeboats!” shouted Beal to his thunderstruck crew. “Find anyone alive and get as far away as you can!”
Submerged. As the waves soothed his naked body, his athletic strokes worked in concert with the rhythm of the current. The first week in April had not yet promised any warmth, the water still rather icy. But he willingly endured the chill ripping through his body for the better feeling swimming afforded him. It was a feeling of being alone but not lonely, a sense of freedom from all restrictions and control. Floating, kicking, somersaulting—try as he could to make noise, the water rendered him irrelevant.
Throughout his boyhood in a port town, he’d heard so many people spoken of as “lost at sea.” Now it seemed to him the strangest turn of phrase. As long as he was in the water, he could not be lost. He could bask, bathe, disappear, and the water sheltered him as much in Boston as it had back home. Not that he ever felt homesick, as some of the other Institute students did who had come from outside Boston. He still traveled the forty miles back and forth to Newburyport by train every day to keep down living expenses, although it cost him more than an hour each way.
To his mother and stepfather, the Institute remained a strange detour from his good position at the machine shop, and a daily interruption to his help at home. His stepfather, James, had always been unhappy, plagued by a partial deafness in his left ear that made him shun all society and friends. He worked as a night watchman for a jeweler because he preferred the solitude and uneventful nature of the position. He assumed people were speaking ill of him because he could not hear what they said, which led him to the further conclusion that city life, being loud, was an evil cacophony of deceit. As for his mother, she was a religious zealot of the old Puritan kind who saw danger in urban life and no value to the son’s studies in Boston.
Even now, when he was a senior, graduation a mere two and a half months away, they did not accept that he—Marcus Mansfield, of all people!—was a student at a college.
Marcus plunged his head back into the cool water, ears tingling as he surveyed the river—a tranquil and forgiving lane that ran between Boston and Cambridge, lined by a gentle, sloping green sward that would shade swimmers and oarsmen from the hot days to come. Unseen behind the thick weather, above the riverbank and the fields and marshes skirting it, there lurked the crowded brick and iron and gold-domed city, propelling Marcus forward with the powerful thrust of a gigantic engine.
At the shallow bend of the river Marcus took another big breath and sank, closing his eyes and relishing the drop. Down below, pieces of debris and lumber had lodged in the muddy riverbed. As he brushed against the foreign articles, he heard a voice beckon, distant, as though issued from the sky:
“Mansfield! Mansfield! We need you!”
Marcus bobbed up from under the water and then grabbed onto the side of a boat.
“Mansfield! There you are! You’re late.”
“How did you know I was swimming?”
“How did we—? Ha! Because I saw a pile of clothes back there on the shore, and who else would dare plunge into this freezing Styx!” The tall, blond oarsman dangled a suit of clothes above Marcus’s head. “Actually, it was Eddy who recognized your clothes.”
“Morning, Marcus,” said the second, smaller oarsman with his usual open smile.
“And since Eddy and I were both ready,” continued Bob, “we pushed out to find you.”
“Then you were early,” said Marcus, treading water toward the bank, “before I was late.”
“Ha! I’ll take that. Get dressed—we need our third oar.”
He shook himself dry on the bank and climbed into his gray trousers and light shirt. His two companions presented a study in opposites as they helped him into their boat: Bob, with the quintessential New Englander’s clear skin and crown of handsome curls, standing carelessly at the edge of the shell; Edwin Hoyt, slight and frail-looking, throwing the little weight he possessed to the other side in anticipation of a tragic drowning.
Despite knowing the water and boats pretty well, Marcus had not grown up indulging in such impractical pursuits as rowing for pleasure, with its arbitrary rules and catchwords. Some weeks before, Bob had announced one morning, “This is the day, fellows!” to Marcus and Edwin, their fellow Institute of Technology senior, as he bounded ahead of them on the way to a lecture.
“Spring is here, Mansfield, and since it’s our last one at the college it’s time I showed you rowing just as I promised. Why, I hardly knew one end of the oar from the other until I was nine years old. A scrawny boy I was, the smallest Richards ever!” This served to emphasize what a commanding twenty-two-year-old Bob had become. Marcus could not actually recall Bob promising to teach them, but let that pass, given Bob’s enthusiasm.
To his surprise, Marcus found rowing not to be the wasted time he expected, and it took his mind away from worrying about the looming future away from the Institute. It was at once calming and exciting, a thrill when the shell launched across the surface of the water as though alive. They tried to recruit more oars among their classmates to join them, but the few willing candidates never did find time.
As their small vessel pushed steadily along, Bob began laughing to himself. “I was just thinking of my brothers,” he explained. “They used to warn me about the sea serpent of the Charles. Nearly one hundred feet long, they said, with humps like a camel and a cry like a braying donkey crossed with an elephant’s trumpeting. You know how I have to take it upon myself to investigate anything in nature. Well, for three months I searched out old Charley, until I determined that the water wouldn’t sustain a sea serpent’s diet.”
“But how did you know what a sea serpent ate?” Edwin asked seriously.
“Bob, would you mind rowing farther east today?” Marcus proposed.
“A quest! Where to?”
“I haven’t seen the harbor since . . .” Marcus did not finish his sentence.
“Better not to, Marcus,” Edwin said quickly. “I caught sight of it this morning after it was all over. The whole harbor was up in smoke. It was like looking into the face of a bad omen.”
“Eager to see the destruction?”
“Actually, Bob, I was hoping to learn something from seeing how they begin the repairs,” Marcus corrected him. “There is already some debris on the riverbed that must have drifted on the current.” He stopped when he saw Bob’s face narrow as he looked out on the water behind them. “What is it?”
“Just my luck,” Bob said. “Faster, fellows! Go! Come on, Mansfield, faster! Well rowed, Hoyt! All clear, come on!”
A forty-nine-foot shell had shot out of the trees sheltering a narrow adjoining channel with the speed of a lightning bolt. Six flashing oars creased the surface of the river in synchronized strokes, throwing off white streaks behind them. The rowers were bare from the waist up, with crimson handkerchiefs wrapped around their heads, and their flexing muscles glistened in the strengthening sun. As Marcus peered back at them, they looked like highly educable pirates, and he knew it would be a lost cause to attempt to elude whatever this boat was.
“Who are they?” he marveled.
“Blaikie,” Bob explained as the three of them pulled as hard as they could. “His is the best Harvard six there ever was, they say. Will Blaikie—he’s the stroke oar. I’d rather stare into the mouth of the serpent.”
Edwin wheezed between strokes, “Blaikie . . . was . . . at Exeter . . . with Bob and me.”
The other vessel came on with a spurt too powerful to shake, now just a length behind.
“Plymouth!” cried the lantern-jawed lead rower on the lightning bolt. The boat went by theirs and then reversed and ranged alongside of them.
“Why, it is you, Plymouth!” said the stroke oar, Blaikie, to Bob with a gleaming smile. Even seated in his shell, he presented the particular mincing swagger of a Harvard senior. “It’s been ages. You’re not forming a randan team, are you?”
“We’ve been borrowing a shell from the boat club,” said Bob, motioning for his friends to stop rowing. Marcus could not remember seeing his classmate so deflated.
“Don’t tell me you’re still dragging your heels over at that embryo of a college, Plymouth?” Blaikie asked.
“We are seniors now, like you.”
“Tant pis pour vous,” interjected one of the Harvard boys, eliciting chuckles from the others.
“I fear civilizing your classmates into respectable gentlemen will take more than teaching them to grip an oar,” Blaikie went on cheerfully. “Science cannot substitute for culture, old salt. I used to agonize, Plymouth, what I would most rather be, stroke of the Harvard, president of the Christian Brethren, or First Scholar of the class. Now I know what it is to be all three.” He was reminded by one of his oarsmen not to forget president of one of the best college societies. “Yes, Smithy! But it is best not to speak of the societies to outsiders.”
“We are doing things far more important—things you wouldn’t begin to understand, Blaikie.”
“Just how many of you Technology boys are there?”
Throwing out his chest, Bob answered, “Fifteen men in the Class of ’68. About thirty-five in the other three classes, and we expect more than ever in the next freshman group.”
1. A major theme of the novel is the end of the Civil War and its lasting reverberations. Discuss the impact of the war on various characters— whether via their direct participation or through their failure to actively take part—and how society was changed as a whole. Compare and con- trast Marcus and Frank, whose wartime experiences transformed them in vastly different ways.
2. Agnes Turner and Ellen Swallow both wish to gain entrance to a world that has traditionally been closed off to them, and each faces her own set of challenges in doing so—Agnes in breaking free from her fam- ily’s expectations, and Ellen in the fierce ostracism she faces from her classmates. While this attitude toward women may have been customary for the era, were there any aspects of it that particularly surprised you? On the other hand, what characters or trends ran against the prevail- ing sensibilities? Did you ever feel that Agnes and Ellen were treated unjustly within the special microcosm represented by the Technologists society? How might the members’ feelings toward their female cohorts have evolved over time?
3. One reviewer called Marcus Mansfield “an American archetype—the plucky outsider” who pulled himself up by his bootstraps to lead the charge of technological advancement. What does this say about what it means to be an American and, based on that, are there any other characters who might also qualify as an “archetype”? Why or why not? How is Marcus’s situation echoed by other elements of the novel?
4. The clash of religion versus technology—faith versus reason—is a key conflict within the novel. At one point, Agassiz accuses Edwin of not believing in God because he also sympathizes with Darwin’s the- ory of evolution. On a larger scale, Tech is condemned for not requir- ing its students to attend chapel—to which Marcus responds, “Our laboratories are our chapels. . . . It is not a matter of holding religious sentiment.” What is the significance of Tech maintaining a separation between the church and the institution of education, and how might this have enabled its students to maintain ties to both pursuits? Are there elements in the novel that suggest the two must be mutually exclusive? Does Harvard’s stressing the importance of religious practice somehow ground it in the traditional ideals that MIT was striving to transcend? How does the tension between science and religion embody some of the novel’s greater themes?
5. The novel explores the idea that those who own technology also own power, whether that power is used for good or for evil. Similarly, it examines the fear that science will advance so quickly that mankind will essentially become the “tools of our tools.” Do you think this struggle for power goes hand in hand with technological progress, and do you see this as still being an issue in the twenty-first century?
6. Matthew Pearl is known for his colorful metaphors and references. At one point, he draws an allusion to the book of Genesis, in which we’re told there is a flaming sword placed to the east of the Garden of Eden so that mankind would never be allowed to enter again. Did you make anything of Cheshire’s deeming himself the “avenging angel” whose tongue is a “flaming sword”? Elsewhere, did you see any significance in Frank’s Ichabod Crane sculpture and its destruction at the hands of the Med Fac members? Were there other metaphors and images that you found especially resonant?
7. Several of the characterizations were inspired by Pearl’s research into actual Tech students—Bob Richards and Edwin Hoyt were real people, Marcus and Hammie are compilations of several Tech boys, Ellen Swallow was the first female to attend the college, and, of course, William Barton Rogers was the original founder, among others. How did these renderings inform your reading and what did you find most interesting or unexpected about these individuals? How would you compare or contrast these students and their world with today’s aca- demic precincts?
8. Did you find that Marcus had a stronger loyalty to MIT as a “working-class” student than those who came from more privileged up- bringings? How else did you see the class struggle manifest, both within and outside of Tech?
9. Were you surprised to learn that MIT wasn’t granted the power to present degrees until weeks before its first graduation, even though it had been seven years since the college was founded? How does this co- incide with the following claim: “Those who embrace the new sciences, who experiment forthrightly and dare search for truth, will be seen as harboring secrets and dark intentions. Science explains so much, any- thing unexplained is pinned to it.” Do you think there’s a tendency to try to limit the boundaries of scientific exploration, and what can be gained or lost by doing so? What else about this period in education struck you?
10. Ellen tells Bob that her father has always lived by the motto, “Where any one else has been, there I can go,” to which she responds, “It was not a bad working motto, but I like to think adventurous spirits do what has never been done before. That is a pioneer.” Discuss how the defini- tion of a pioneer is exemplified throughout the novel, both in terms of characters and institutions. Are there any who might fit the bill even though their intentions are unsavory?
11. Like The Technologists, Matthew Pearl’s first three novels—The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow, and The Last Dickens—have all been set primarily in the vibrant milieu of mid- to late-nineteenth-century America. What scenes and motifs from The Technologists were the most memorable to you, and did you draw any similarities to these prior works? The Technologists might also be said to be somewhat of a depar- ture from Pearl’s other novels, which are all rooted in literary history. What do you make of his transition into the realm of historical science and education?
12. Were you surprised when the source of the catastrophes was re- vealed? How do you interpret the motivation and psychological turmoil behind it? What do you think it is that makes some characters abuse their superior knowledge of science and technology, while others who are equally as capable are never tempted to use these tools as a means to exert their authority?
Posted October 26, 2011
Reviewed by Dr. Karen Hutchins Pirnot for Readers Favorite
In The Technologists, author Matthew Pearl has brilliantly portrayed the first precarious years in the development and survival of the Massachesetts Institute of Technology. It is 1868, and MIT is to graduate its first class. And then, frightening things begin to happen in the city of Boston, events which threaten to jeopardize the credibility of the MIT students as well as the very institution itself. There is conflict between Harvard and MIT, and sabotage is suspected. When people are injured and others die, four potential graduates decide to take matters into their own hands. Bob, Hammie, Eddy and "charity student" Marcus team up with the first female MIT student, Ellen, to try to solve the mysteries which threaten their very existence as well as the reputation of MIT.
The chapters are brilliantly sculptured into the original teaching areas of MIT, and each section reveals itself to be critical to the uncovering of clues and the eventual solution of the mystery. President Rogers, the founder of MIT, is revered by the students, and when he falls ill, his banner is taken up by his loyal students. They go forth with a firm resolve to clear the name of MIT and to show the world that the institution is a valid and superior place of learning.
Matthew Pearl carefully develops his characters such that the reader can begin to visualize who might falter and who will prevail. He skillfully weaves in clues without giving away the mystery, and he makes the reader want to become part of the class of 1868 to fight for the survival of a university which has since become a force within the academic world.
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Posted October 19, 2011
Matthew Pearl's "The Technologists" is a historical mystery set in post-Civil War Boston. Pearl does a magnificent job of recreating a 19th century Boston that I can only compare to the New York City of Caleb Carr's "The Alienist". The book is sort of a CSI-Boston (1800's).a cast of strong characters sleuth a series of attacks on the city and use science to uncover a growing plot.
Pearl centers his mystery on a few members of the first-ever graduating class of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. MIT's creation comes at a time when the country is feeling the impact of the Industrial Age. Factories and their smokestacks dot the Boston landscape. Heavy machinery is being operated by the uneducated masses. A generalized fear creeps across the city - the fear of technology, of what it can do, of what it means.
In this context reside two schools: the well-established, respected, and religiously-based institution that is Harvard; across the river in a partially filled building is the upstart and technology-focused MIT. Not only does this new school focus exclusively on the scientific arts, but they provide scholarships to the underprivileged, and they have a female student on their rolls.
And so the themes of technological emergence, and class and gender equality combine with a wonderfully evocative 19th century Boston to provide the backdrop of this terrific piece of historical fiction. The core plot revolves around two inexplicable attacks on the city itself. The first occurs in the Boston harbor one foggy evening. Navigational compasses go awry on dozens of ships which leads to mayhem and destruction. The next week, all of the windows on the buildings in the financial district of the city literally melt away.
The people of Boston are frightened. In a world where science and magic are virtually indistinguishable, MIT staff and students worry that the finger of blame will be pointed in their direction. Four students band together to uncover the cause of these accidents and prevent any further attacks. Modeling themselves after Harvard's secret student society, they call themselves The Technologists.
The story hums along at a pretty good pace, despite the character and relationship-heavy middle third of the book. Pearl has developed a very good piece of fiction, with enough depth to push this above standard fictional fare.
I received this book as part of the Amazon Vine program.
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Posted March 3, 2012
The Technologists by Matthew Pearl is a fictional book about the early days of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). The story takes place in the years after the American Civil War during a very fragile time in our history.
A Civil War veteran & POW by the name of Marcus Mansfield is attending the first class of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a charity student. Even though he is not as rich as his counterparts, Marcus is smart and a scientist n heart and mind.
Mansfield and his colleagues decide to investigate recent strange occurrences which happened in the Boston Harbor and the city itself. What’s at stake is the future of MIT as well as modern science itself.
The Technologists by Matthew Pearl is an entertaining read with wonderful historical detail and a bunch of nerdiness thrown in for good measure. While I wasn’t sucked into the book as much as I would have liked, I found the characters captivating and the plot line interesting.
The author does a great job interweaving reality and fiction as well as the dialog which was spoken in that time period. The harsh social norms of the time are presented in the form of a lone MIT female student who is forced to study in isolation.
There were several intriguing aspects of this book, it is written almost as a futuristic novel, but of course with technology most of us consider antiquated. The ones I thought were the most interesting where the technological aspect, Harvard’s religious aspects, and flashbacks of the protagonist to the American Civil War.
The overreaching technology which the MIT students dealt with, old in today’s standards but presented in the book as the latest innovations (reminiscent of steampunk) are explained in an interesting way. Technology, then as is now, is sometimes seen as an evil, especially when it looks as if it might cost a whole class their living wage.
I have always held Harvard as a forward thinking university. This novel, and a quick confirmation on Google, taught me that it wasn’t always so. From my previous reading on American history it seemed to me that Harvard has always strove to innovate, but it seems that around that time Harvard upheld its religious standards higher than its scientific ones. The university wouldn’t admit students who aren’t Christians as well as oppose ideas which do not agree with the Christian dogma based on nothing but the ridiculous idea that religion shouldn’t be questioned.
A few of the chapters are told in flashbacks to the characters’ Civil War experience and how that experience came to influence the
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Posted May 28, 2012
"The Technologists" offers an interesting look at post-Civil War Boston and the earty years of MIT, but as a "thriller" it isn't very thrilling. Pearl nails the Harvard-MIT rivalry on the head (I went to MIT in the 50s), but the plot is tedious and unfocused and the characters needlessly stereotypical. The "Technologists" of the title feel like a blend of the Tom Swift novels and the Our Gang films. I read and enjoyed "The Dante Club." This book disappointed.
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Posted February 1, 2013
I found out about The Technologists from a favorable review, I read, in the Sunday NY Times Book Review. I was very pleased with the book. It was a page turner and the ending was satisfying.
The book deals with students in the first senior class from MIT and how the school has to fight with Harvard to prove it was a legitimate university. The book is a novel and deals with mysterious physical catastrophes occurring and how the students, using the skills learned at MIT, solved the mysteries.
I ordered another book, on Nook by Matthew Pearl to see if this author was a 'one book wonder'. I haven't read it yet because I rotate the types of books I read. But I recommend you give The Technologists a chance.
Posted January 2, 2013
I found the concept enticing since I graduate degrees in physics and I really enjoyed Pearl's Dante Club. This was not the same caliber. It was disjointed and tended to ramble and frankly the dialog, of which most the story depends, is rushed and cartoonish. It is as if he did not know what kind of story to write. There is a love interest that was not needed and in the end it did nothing to help the story and actually detracted from the plot. There were twists in the plot that were not fully exploited and were often resolved as quickly as they arose. Just sloppy writing or lack of a strong editor to guide the writer who is indeed talented, but now seems to want to follow a formula. I think that the meticulous work on the research for the book took all of the time and then it was a rush to just get it over with. This could make for an entertaining movie of the National Treasure variety after some cuts and coherency.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 10, 2012
I'm torn between giving this book a "good" or "very good" rating -- so I settled on the latter. I enjoyed the characters and the setting in post Civil War Boston. The idea of the first class of MIT students investigating a mystery is intriguing. Too often, however, the characters behavior conforms more to the convenience of the plot than of genuine motivation. And the plot twists seem to have come from a Hardy Boys novel. Still, I was entertained and compelled to keep reading, and that's the bottom line. Hence the "very good" rating.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted September 14, 2012
Wasn't sure I would enjoy all the above-my-pay-grade science, but Pearl has crafted a very interesting and accessible story, especially if you are interested in the history of American education.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 14, 2012
Matthew Pearl has again done a masterful job in delving into history.
This book is a fictionalized version of the early beginnings an trials that occurred in the development of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the problems from Harvard and the admission of women. A thoroughly interesting work.
Posted April 30, 2012
Having read The Dante Club, The Last Dickens, etc., I was already a fan of Pearl's historical fiction work, but he has taken his character development to entirely new levels in this latest effort. The other works were good reads, but left me wanting something more from the characters, to bring them off the page...he has accomplished that goal with The Technologists!
His blending of the history of the founding of MIT with a first rate mystery plot really takes his work in a new direction, I look forward to future page turners!
Posted April 8, 2012
FIRST YEAR OF MIT HISTORICAL MYSTERY
The Technologists is about the first graduating class of MIT and the predjudice society felt for this type of institution along with a series of disasters inflicted upon the city of Boston by an unknown person. The MIT students, mostly male along with the first female student enrolled there, set out to figure out who is committing these awful acts against the city to prove it isn't them, the science that they are studying and therefore the institution of MIT that is to blame. This story is a filled with scientific facts. It was a little slow in the plot, but there is a lot of information to get through. The main characters are well developed. It was interesting to see how the first female student among all the men was treated( I believe this was a true story line). It turned out to be better than I thought it would be .
Posted March 31, 2012
I enjoyed The Dante Club and I enjoy historical fiction so expected to like this book. The characters seemed well developed and that kept me reading. Unfortunately the pseudo-technology or even wrong technology is annoying to someone who considers himself a technology buff.The "climax" was a real let-down.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 29, 2012
Posted March 27, 2012
Another fantastic book by Matthew Pearl! A page-turner that I never wanted to put down! Pearl has become one of my favorite authors and I can't wait for his next book!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 22, 2012
A fun book! Pearl captures perfectly the time period of 1868 through his discriptive verbage and the diaglog of his characters. Throw in the history lessions on the way and the, "Technologist," is a thoroughly great read. One of my favorites of the last couple of years.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 21, 2012
This was very interesting because some of the people were real students at MIT and the story was great. I always enjoy the afterward which tells you what was real and what was just part of the story. Set in Boston with the first graduating class of 1868 and the rivalry of Harvard. Enjoy.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 20, 2012
I bought The Technologist because it was rated as an historical thriller. Perhaps were I again13 years of age, I might have thought so. It is on a par with Michael Vey by Richard Paul Evans. I didn't enjoy that for many of the same reason, but the 13 year-old girl downstairs thought it awesome.
I found the read stilted, transitionally awkward and contrived, not at all thrilling, and not even remotely interesting on the historical aspect.
It isn't pleasant to give a bad review and, certainly, it isn't pleasant to have had to endure the read till it's end to make sure one has been fair; in case, at some point along the line, the story manages to somewhat redeem itself. I am awfully disappointed. If the book were "satisfaction guaranteed, I would have asked my money be returned. Sorry old bean.
0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 12, 2012
Posted July 30, 2011
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Posted April 4, 2012
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