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Technics and Civilization

With a New Foreword by Langdon Winner

Technics and Civilization first presented its compelling history of the machine and critical study of its effects on civilization in 1934—before television, the personal computer, and the Internet even appeared on our periphery.

Drawing upon art, science, philosophy, and the history of culture, Lewis Mumford explained the origin of the machine age and traced its social results, asserting that the development of modern technology had its roots in the Middle Ages rather than the Industrial Revolution. Mumford sagely argued that it was the moral, economic, and political choices we made, not the machines that we used, that determined our then industrially driven economy. Equal parts powerful history and polemic criticism, Technics and Civilization was the first comprehensive attempt in English to portray the development of the machine age over the last thousand years—and to predict the pull the technological still holds over us today.

 “The questions posed in the first paragraph of Technics and Civilization still deserve our attention, nearly three quarters of a century after they were written.”—Journal of Technology and Culture

528 pages | 6 x 9 | © 1934, 2010

History: History of Technology


“A brilliant historical and critical account of the effect of the artificial environment on man and of man on the environment, a necessary account, one for which we have waited too long in English.”

The New York Times

Table of Contents

Foreword by Langdon Winner
Introduction to the 1963 Edition
Captions to Images from the 1934 Edition


Chapter I. Cultural Preparation
Chapter II. Agents of Mechanization
Chapter III.  The Eotechnic Phase
Chapter IV. The Paleotechnic Phase
Chapter V. The Neotechnic Phase
Chapter VI. Compensations and Reversions
Chapter VII. Assimilation of the Machine
Chapter VIII. Orientation

Prefatory Note

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