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The Technologists

The Technologists

3.7 36
by Matthew Pearl

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“A terrific historical mystery in the fine old Arthur Conan Doyle style . . . Who knew that a mystery formed around the founding of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could be so good? . . . There are cliffhanger endings and fortuitous escapes. . . . There are even a couple of very sweet romances.”—The Globe and Mail


“A terrific historical mystery in the fine old Arthur Conan Doyle style . . . Who knew that a mystery formed around the founding of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could be so good? . . . There are cliffhanger endings and fortuitous escapes. . . . There are even a couple of very sweet romances.”—The Globe and Mail
Boston, 1868. The Civil War may be over but a new war has begun, one between past and present, tradition and technology. The daring Massachusetts Institute of Technology is on a mission to harness science for the benefit of all. But when an unnatural disaster strikes the ships in Boston Harbor, and an equally inexplicable catastrophe devastates the heart of the city, an antiscience backlash casts a pall over MIT and threatens its very survival. So the best and brightest from the Institute’s first graduating class secretly join forces to save innocent lives and track down the truth. Armed with ingenuity and their unique scientific training, gifted war veteran Marcus Mansfield, blueblood Robert Richards, genius Edwin Hoyt, and brilliant freshman Ellen Swallow will match wits with a master criminal bent on the utter destruction of the city.
Don’t miss Matthew Pearl’s short story “The Professor’s Assassin,” featuring characters from The Technologists, in the back of the book.
Look for special features inside. Join the Circle for author chats and more.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Fascinating, mesmerizing, and richly atmospheric, The Technologists is the best yet from a true master of the historical thriller. I loved this novel.”—Joseph Finder, author of Buried Secrets and Vanished
“A terrific historical mystery in the fine old Arthur Conan Doyle style . . . Who knew that a mystery formed around the founding of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology could be so good? . . . There are cliffhanger endings and fortuitous escapes. . . . There are even a couple of very sweet romances.”—The Globe and Mail
The Technologists combines everything I love in a thriller: fascinating history, science, and a frightening mystery that demands to be solved.”—Tess Gerritsen, author of Last to Die
“A marvel of moving parts [with] all the twists and turns a mystery lover could ask for.”—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Set in 1868 Boston, the latest historical fiction from Pearl (The Dante Club) finds protagonist Marcus Mansfield on the cusp of graduation from the newly formed Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he studies intently, spies on the Catholic girls’ school, and fights Harvard’s unfriendly rowing team. Life at the school is upended after a strange set of calamities takes place. In foggy Boston Harbor, ships collide, and all the glass in the city’s central commercial district suddenly liquefies, maiming and killing Bostonians. The police are at a loss, not sure if these are crimes at all. Harvard’s best—and mostly incompetent—minds are enlisted to solve the crime, leaving Mansfield and his friends no option but to form a secret club and solve the mystery themselves. In order to do so, they must contend with a scarred man, Harvard’s satanic Medical Faculty (Med Fac) club, and antiscience trade unionists. Lighter than his previous novels, Pearl again blends detective fiction with historical characters (such as pioneering feminist and MIT-trained scientist Ellen Swallow), and his cast reads like a who’s who of 19th-century Boston. The novel is lighter than some of Pearl’s previous work, but still great fun to read. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Pearl's faultless fourth historical mystery centers on Boston in the late 1860s and the newly founded college that will become the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Three male students from different class backgrounds and the institution's sole female student team up to research a series of scientific mysteries baffling the Boston police. As part of MIT's first secret society, the Technologists, the students use chemicals, experiments, and such inventions as a primitive submarine to track a murderer whose abilities and education seem to parallel their own. The Technologists race to stay ahead of the police while dueling with their Harvard rivals and fending off antagonism from the trade unionists, who resent MIT's role in mechanizing factories. VERDICT Pearl has a special talent for making likable detectives out of historical figures (The Dante Club) and for pulling compelling plotlines from biographies (The Poe Shadow; The Last Dickens). Here, MIT and Harvard are brought to the foreground and so well depicted that they become historical characters in their own right. This thriller won't disappoint Pearl's many fans. [Library and academic marketing; on December 5 the publisher released an e-original short story as a tie-in to this novel.—Ed.]—Catherine Lantz, Morton Coll. Lib., Cicero, IL
Kirkus Reviews
Brains and technology battle evil in Pearl's (The Last Dickens, 2009, etc.) latest, an improbable but entertaining yarn of weird science. Marcus Mansfield is trying to adjust to life as a civilian following years in a Confederate prison. He is a diffident and cautious fellow: "He did not volunteer for the war to be a hero, nor to change the world, either, but did think it was the best thing a man could do." He also wants to be left alone, having applied for a night watchman's job for the solitude and instead finding work in a dark corner of a machine shop, where he puts his talents to use designing things that are much ahead of their time. In a Boston scarcely bigger than a suburb today, he draws the attention of the head of a new school on the Back Bay along "surroundings that were grandly artificial, where the pupils would observe the way in which civil engineers could turn malodorous swamp...into a landscape of wide streets." All this comes just in time for the chase at hand, for someone has in turn been sabotaging the shipping in Boston's busy harbor, turning compasses upside down and sending freighters and schooners plowing into the docks at crazy angles. It's up to Mansfield and a team of proto-geeks at MIT to figure out what sort of devious soul would want to make like a whale and wreak Moby-Dick's vengeance on the good brahmins of Beacon Hill--and while the answer, which takes a good long time in coming, isn't in the least bit predictable, it also makes sense once it comes into focus. Marcus' enthusiasm for the chase is delightful--"We'll need Tech's best physicist on hand, of course!"--as is Pearl's appreciation for both 19th-century science and technology and affection for Beantown and its history. Of appeal to fans of Guy Ritchie's Sherlock Holmes films, as well as aficionados of a good adventure layered with batteries, transformers and navigational tools.

Product Details

Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.32(w) x 7.78(h) x 1.26(d)

Read an Excerpt

Book 1
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.
“Which day?”
“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.”

Meet the Author

Matthew Pearl is the New York Times bestselling author of The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow, and The Last Dickens, and the editor of the Modern Library editions of Dante’s Inferno (translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow) and Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue: The Dupin Tales. Pearl is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School and has taught literature at Harvard and at Emerson College. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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The Technologists: A Novel 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
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.
JGolomb More than 1 year ago
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.
Man_Of_La_Book_Dot_Com More than 1 year ago
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
twigtip More than 1 year ago
"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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goodread More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Vermonter17032 More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
PeteAS More than 1 year ago
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.
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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!
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GreenEyedReader More than 1 year ago
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 .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago