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Inventing the Cotton Gin: Machine and Myth in Antebellum America
     

Inventing the Cotton Gin: Machine and Myth in Antebellum America

by Angela Lakwete
 

Angela Lakwete revisits the myths evoked by Eli Whitney's cottin gin and discovers that gins existe for centuries before his 1794 invention. Her compelling study explores this tool as an artifact of global history and a barometer of southern industrial development.

Overview

Angela Lakwete revisits the myths evoked by Eli Whitney's cottin gin and discovers that gins existe for centuries before his 1794 invention. Her compelling study explores this tool as an artifact of global history and a barometer of southern industrial development.

Editorial Reviews

Material Culture - Twyla Dell
"She has done an excellent job of weaving together an amazingly complex series of events in a straightforward and interesting manner."

H-Net Reviews - Shepherd W. McKinley
"An important addition to the growing list of works on southern industrialization... As with other good history books, it challenges what we think we knew, and sends us searching for more clues."

Choice
"Lakwete has written the first scholarly study of the cotton gin in antebellum America... Instead of viewing Eli Whitney's work as a historical watershed, she finds continuity."

Times Literary Supplement
With careful use of vivid illustrations and keen analytic skills, Lakwete captures the relationship between technology and human initiative.

— Lester P. Lee, Jr.

Alabama Review
Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, which created the Old South and then destroyed it... Lakwete targets this myth in Inventing the Cotton Gin and largely demolishes it.

— John Bezís-Selfa

EH.Net
This study provides students a clear example of how technological choices are not the storybook cases of perfected innovations replacing hopelessly outclassed traditional methods.

— William H. Phillips

Business History Review
Few will dispute that this book will change how historians think about the rise of King Cotton and the nature of technological change.

— John Majewski

Enterprise and Society
[Lakwete] captures the nuances that distinguish technological success from failure.

— John S. Nader

Technology and Culture
Another myth relating to the South is relegated, shall we say—with apologies to Marx—to the (cotton) dustbin of history... A major work of scholarship.

— Peter A. Coclanis

Bloomsbury Review
Inventing the Cotton Gin is an education in economic and business history as much as a needed revisionist version of the cotton gin myth.

— Kim Long

South Carolina Historical Magazine
Bold and path-breaking... Most forcefully, Lakwete impugns the notion that a machine bears the responsibility for the Civil War and its aftermath.

— Mark Finlay

Georgia Historical Quarterly
The best and most sophisticated treatment of the gin in the larger context of the antebellum cotton South we are likely to see... The dramatic, great-white man narrative of Eli Whitney yields to a richer, more complex story.

— David L. Carlton

Material Culture
She has done an excellent job of weaving together an amazingly complex series of events in a straightforward and interesting manner.

— Twyla Dell

H-Net Reviews
An important addition to the growing list of works on southern industrialization... As with other good history books, it challenges what we think we knew, and sends us searching for more clues.

— Shepherd W. McKinley

History: Reviews of New Books
For those seeking to understand how the interplay of market factors, cultural norms, and personal choices shape—and are shaped by—technology, Inventing the Cotton Gin is an excellent read.

— Don Butts

Times Literary Supplement - Lester P. Lee
"With careful use of vivid illustrations and keen analytic skills, Lakwete captures the relationship between technology and human initiative."

Alabama Review - John Bezís-Selfa
"Eli Whitney invented the cotton gin, which created the Old South and then destroyed it... Lakwete targets this myth in Inventing the Cotton Gin and largely demolishes it."

EH.Net - William H. Phillips
"This study provides students a clear example of how technological choices are not the storybook cases of perfected innovations replacing hopelessly outclassed traditional methods."

History: Reviews of New Books - Don Butts
"For those seeking to understand how the interplay of market factors, cultural norms, and personal choices shape—and are shaped by—technology, Inventing the Cotton Gin is an excellent read."

H-South, H-Net Reviews - Barbara Hahn
"Lakwete joins the pantheon of technological historians by demolishing a standard, widely accepted myth with the careful and persuasive analysis of a vast array of evidence... The book is a triumph."

Business History Review - John Majewski
"Few will dispute that this book will change how historians think about the rise of King Cotton and the nature of technological change."

Enterprise and Society - John S. Nader
"[Lakwete] captures the nuances that distinguish technological success from failure."

Technology and Culture - Peter A. Coclanis
"Another myth relating to the South is relegated, shall we say—with apologies to Marx—to the (cotton) dustbin of history... A major work of scholarship."

Bloomsbury Review - Kim Long
" Inventing the Cotton Gin is an education in economic and business history as much as a needed revisionist version of the cotton gin myth."

South Carolina Historical Magazine - Mark Finlay
"Bold and path-breaking... Most forcefully, Lakwete impugns the notion that a machine bears the responsibility for the Civil War and its aftermath."

Georgia Historical Quarterly - David L. Carlton
"The best and most sophisticated treatment of the gin in the larger context of the antebellum cotton South we are likely to see... The dramatic, great-white man narrative of Eli Whitney yields to a richer, more complex story."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801873942
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
11/28/2003
Series:
Johns Hopkins Studies in the History of Technology
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
248
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are Saying About This

Carolyn C. Cooper
"The book is a highly original and substantial contribution to the history of technology, particularly in showing how machine designs are shaped by the pull and haul of both economics and culture. The scholarship is impressive, skillfully linking together a very wide range of diverse documentary and pictorial evidence."

Pete Daniel
"Lakwete's compelling and revisionist book on the cotton gin is a major contribution to the history of Southern technology. The writing is clear and concise, the descriptions of very complex mechanical operations are lucid, and the study is grounded in superb research."

Meet the Author

Angela Lakwete is an associate professor of history at Auburn University.

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