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June 2009
256 pages  

6 x 9
9780822944836
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James Watt, Chemist
Understanding the Origins of the Steam Age
Miller, David Philip
In the Victorian era, James Watt became an iconic engineer, but in his own time he was also an influential chemist. Miller examines Watt’s illustrious engineering career in light of his parallel interest in chemistry, arguing that Watt’s conception of steam engineering relied upon chemical understandings.

Part I of the book—Representations—examines the way James Watt has been portrayed over time, emphasizing sculptural, pictorial and textual representations from the nineteenth century. As an important contributor to the development of arguably the most important technology of industrialization, Watt became a symbol that many groups of thinkers were anxious to claim. Part II—Realities—focuses on reconstructing the unsung "chemical Watt" instead of the lionized engineer.

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"A tremendous piece of scholarship . . . should be read not just by by students of Watt but also by scholars concerned with chemistry, engineering, commemoration and reputation building from the mid-eighteenth century." —British Journal for the History of Science

"Will be especially valuable to readers interested in the science of the period. Highly recommended." —Choice

"Miller has an enjoyable writing style. . . . The balance of the book is good and the 16-page bibliography is very wide ranging." —Notes & Records of the Royal Society

"Miller concludes his fascinating study of reputation with an analysis of Watt's indicator in its late-eighteenth-century and ninteenth-century manifestations." —Victorian Studies

"Miller adds significantly to our understanding of phlogistic chemistry in late eighteenth-century Britain and, via his account of Watt's role in the 'water controversy,' the Chemical Revolution itself. . . . It is a measure of his considerable acumen and talents as a historian that he achieves his novel and illuminating insights through a carefully crafted, exhaustively documented and tightly argued analysis of a period in the history of science which, though still poorly understood, transformed our comprehension and utilization of that most ubiquitous and precious substance, water." —Annals of Science

"The analysis is consistently convincing, the range of sources consulted is impressive, and the prose is direct and simple—yet always interesting." —Metascience

Complete Description Reviews
Science and Culture in the Nineteenth Century
History of Science
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In the Victorian era, James Watt became an iconic engineer, but in his own time he was also an influential chemist. Miller examines Watt’s illustrious engineering career in light of his parallel interest in chemistry, arguing that Watt’s conception of steam engineering relied upon chemical understandings.

Part I of the book—Representations—examines the way James Watt has been portrayed over time, emphasizing sculptural, pictorial and textual representations from the nineteenth century. As an important contributor to the development of arguably the most important technology of industrialization, Watt became a symbol that many groups of thinkers were anxious to claim. Part II—Realities—focuses on reconstructing the unsung "chemical Watt" instead of the lionized engineer.

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