Pieces of the Action

Pieces of the Action

Pieces of the Action

Pieces of the Action


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An inside account of one of the most innovative R&D ecosystems of the 20th century, from the man who was at the center of it all.

Over a 60-year career in public affairs, Vannevar Bush—engineer, inventor, educator, and public face of government-funded science—sought to eliminate roadblocks to innovation in science and technology. In Pieces of the Action, a collection of memoir-essays, he reflects on his role in shaping the policies and organizations that powered American research and development in the mid-20th century.

As the architect and administrator of an R&D pipeline that efficiently coordinated the work of civilian scientists and the military during World War II, he was central to catalyzing the development of radar and the proximity fuze, the mass production of penicillin, and the initiation of the Manhattan Project. Pieces of the Action offers his hard-won lessons on how to operate and manage effectively within complex organizations, build bridges between people and disciplines, and drive ambitious, unprecedented programs to fruition. With wry humor, Bush also shares personal observations and anecdotes—pelting cows with apples, poking fun at servicemen who tried to keep his own invention secret from him—that offer a glimpse of the personality behind the accolades.

Originally published in 1970, this updated edition includes 15 archival images from Bush’s life and career and a foreword from entrepreneur and Idea Machines podcast host Ben Reinhardt that contextualizes the lessons Pieces of the Action can offer to contemporary readers: that change depends both on heroic individuals and effective organizations; that a leader’s job is one of coordination; and that the path from idea to innovation is a long and winding one, inextricably bound to those involved—those enduring figures who have a piece of the action.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781953953209
Publisher: Stripe Press
Publication date: 06/28/2022
Pages: 376
Sales rank: 133,009
Product dimensions: 6.25(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Vannevar Bush (1890–1974) was an engineer, inventor, and architect of public-sector funding for scientific research. As chairman of the US National Defense Research Committee and director of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II, he oversaw a wide-ranging R&D program that paired government funding with scientific research, resulting in the development of radar and the initiation of the Manhattan Project. He conducted foundational research in computer science, including the invention of the differential analyzer. He served as vice president of MIT and first dean of the MIT School of Engineering, president of the Carnegie Institute of Washington, and chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. His 1945 essay “As We May Think” in the Atlantic Monthly is credited with anticipating aspects of personal computing and the internet, while his government report Science, The Endless Frontier laid the groundwork for the founding of the National Science Foundation.

Table of Contents


I 60 Years
II Of Organizations
III Of Stumbling Blocks
IV Of Tyros
V Of Inventions and Inventors
VI Of Energies, Engines, and Hobbies
VII Of Teachers and Teaching
VIII Of Leaders and Leadership

Biographical Notes
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