By Fred Nadis
"This is an interesting and significant research of well known technology in the USA after the mid-nineteenth century, packed with memorable characters and the superb demonstrations in their wonders."—James B. Gilbert, writer of Redeeming tradition: American faith in an Age of technology "A well timed and illuminating exploration of yankee technology and pseudo-science as embodied in ‘wonder shows.’ Fred Nadis impressively connects those colourful performances to modern debates in regards to the energy and status of conventional technology amid contemporary demanding situations to science’s highbrow and ethical authority. an amazing book!"—Howard Segal, fowl Professor of historical past, collage of Maine"This is an interesting exam of the limits among technological know-how, faith, and magic."—Robert W. Rydell, writer of all of the World’s a good: Visions of Empire at American overseas Expositions, 1876–1916 think a level choked with black cats emitting electric sparks, a guy catching bullets along with his tooth, or an evangelist leaping on a transformer to shoot bolts of lightning via his fingertips. those and different wild schemes have been a part of the repertoire of showmen who traveled from urban to urban, making shows that combined technology with fable and magic.In ask yourself exhibits, Fred Nadis bargains a colourful heritage of those touring magicians, inventors, well known technology academics, and different presenters of "miracle technology" who published technological know-how and know-how to the general public in awe-inspiring model. The booklet offers an leading edge synthesis of the heritage of functionality with a much broader research of tradition, technological know-how, and faith from the antebellum interval to the current. It encompasses a full of life forged of characters, together with electric "wizards" Nikola Tesla and Thomas Alva Edison, vaudeville performers equivalent to Harry Houdini, brain readers, alien craft cultists, and practitioners of recent Age technological know-how. All of those performers built thoughts for invoking cultural authority to again their visions of technology and development. The pseudo-science of their ask yourself exhibits helped advertise a romantic worldview that known as into query absolutely the authority of clinical materialism whereas reaffirming the significance of human spirituality. Nadis argues that the feeling that those entertainers supplied turned an antidote to the alienation and dehumanization that followed the increase of contemporary the US. even though most up-to-date defenders of technological know-how are liable to reject ask yourself, contemplating it an best friend of lack of know-how and superstition, ask yourself indicates demonstrates that the public’s ardour for magic and which means continues to be greatly alive. this day, revenues stay made and allegiances gained in response to illusions that items are specific, singular, and at most sensible, remarkable. Nadis establishes that modern showmen, company publicists, advertisers, and well known technology academics aren't that in contrast to the magicians and mesmerists of years in the past.