100 books like Alexander's Bridge

By Willa Sibert Cather,

Here are 100 books that Alexander's Bridge fans have personally recommended if you like Alexander's Bridge. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of Player Piano

Carroll Pursell Author Of The Machine in America: A Social History of Technology

From my list on technology interacting with American society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been teaching and writing in the field of the history of technology for over six decades, and it's not too much to say that the field and my professional career grew up together. The Society for the History of Technology began in 1958, and its journal, Technology and Culture, first appeared the following year. I've watched, and helped encourage, a broadening of the subject from a rather internal concentration on machines and engineering to a widening interest in technology as a social activity with cultural and political, as well as economic, outcomes. In my classes I always assigned not only original documents and scholarly monographs but also memoirs, literature, and films.

Carroll's book list on technology interacting with American society

Carroll Pursell Why did Carroll love this book?

Player Piano, Kurt Vonnegut’s first novel, was not, he said, “a book about what is, but a book about what could be.” Further, “it is mostly about managers and engineers” and more precisely, about automation and what American society could become if machines took over work, and labor, as we have known it, was made redundant. His imagined city of Illium was socially and physically split between the managers and engineers of its industrial plant and the former workers had been displaced by automation and now led meaningless lives of busy work provided by the government. The engineer Paul Proteus becomes disaffected and joins in a revolution being plotted against the new order. They succeed, but soon realize that the people of Illium were “already eager to recreate the same old nightmare.” The logic of the machine continued its sway.

I like that you have to watch Vonnegut carefully.…

By Kurt Vonnegut,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Player Piano as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Player Piano is the debut novel from one of history's most innovative authors, published on Vonnegut's 100th birthday.

In Player Piano, the first of Vonnegut's wildly funny and deadly serious novels, automata have dramatically reduced the need for America's work force. Ten years after the introduction of these robot labourers, the only people still working are the engineers and their managers, who live in Ilium; everyone else lives in Homestead, an impoverished part of town characterised by purposelessness and mass produced houses.

Paul Proteus is the manager of Ilium Works. While grateful to be held in high regard, Paul begins…


Book cover of More Work for Mother: The Ironies of Household Technology from the Open Hearth to the Microwave

Carroll Pursell Author Of The Machine in America: A Social History of Technology

From my list on technology interacting with American society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been teaching and writing in the field of the history of technology for over six decades, and it's not too much to say that the field and my professional career grew up together. The Society for the History of Technology began in 1958, and its journal, Technology and Culture, first appeared the following year. I've watched, and helped encourage, a broadening of the subject from a rather internal concentration on machines and engineering to a widening interest in technology as a social activity with cultural and political, as well as economic, outcomes. In my classes I always assigned not only original documents and scholarly monographs but also memoirs, literature, and films.

Carroll's book list on technology interacting with American society

Carroll Pursell Why did Carroll love this book?

It is hardly news that housework is gendered. But in this classic study Cowan, by taking housewifery seriously as work and kitchen utensils and appliances seriously as technologies, opens up the whole panorama of production and consumption in a domestic setting. The influx of new appliances, and in a more convenient form old materials (such as powdered soap) in the early decades of the 20th century worked to, in a sense, “industrialize” the home. Unlike factory workers, however, housewives were unpaid, isolated, and unspecialized. Their managerial role shrank (hired help disappeared from most homes)  and rather than being drained of meaning, like the work of factory hands, theirs became burdened with portentous implications of love, devotion, and creativity. Finally, as housework became “easy,” standards rose. At one time changing the bed might have amounted to putting the bottom sheet in the wash and the top sheet on the bottom,…

By Ruth Schwartz Cowan,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked More Work for Mother as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this classic work of women's history (winner of the 1984 Dexter Prize from the Society for the History of Technology), Ruth Schwartz Cowan shows how and why modern women devote as much time to housework as did their colonial sisters. In lively and provocative prose, Cowan explains how the modern conveniences,washing machines, white flour, vacuums, commercial cotton,seemed at first to offer working-class women middle-class standards of comfort. Over time, however, it became clear that these gadgets and gizmos mainly replaced work previously conducted by men, children, and servants. Instead of living lives of leisure, middle-class women found themselves struggling…


Book cover of The Machine in the Garden: Technology and the Pastoral Ideal in America

Carroll Pursell Author Of The Machine in America: A Social History of Technology

From my list on technology interacting with American society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been teaching and writing in the field of the history of technology for over six decades, and it's not too much to say that the field and my professional career grew up together. The Society for the History of Technology began in 1958, and its journal, Technology and Culture, first appeared the following year. I've watched, and helped encourage, a broadening of the subject from a rather internal concentration on machines and engineering to a widening interest in technology as a social activity with cultural and political, as well as economic, outcomes. In my classes I always assigned not only original documents and scholarly monographs but also memoirs, literature, and films.

Carroll's book list on technology interacting with American society

Carroll Pursell Why did Carroll love this book?

My admiration for this book is demonstrated by the way in which I quite shamelessly ripped off its title for my own. It has been said that America is the only nation that began perfect and hoped to improve. The engine of that improvement, from the earliest days of the Republic, had been new technologies but by the middle of the pre-Civil War period some Americans began to realize that the “improvement” they had unleashed was beginning to erode the very “perfection” that they had hoped to enshrine in the nation’s foundation. Writers, artists, and creative intellectuals in general are society’s canaries in the mine shaft, and the great names of the American Renaissance—Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Washington Irving, Herman Melville, George Innes, Charles Sheeler, and their colleagues—attempted to describe, understand, and perhaps heal the destructive effects of the machine. As Marx concludes, “what was a grim possibility…

By Leo Marx,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Machine in the Garden as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For over four decades, Leo Marx's work has focused on the relationship between technology and culture in 19th- and 20th-century America. His research helped to define-and continues to give depth to-the area of American studies concerned with the links between scientific and technological advances, and the way society and culture both determine these links. The Machine in the Garden fully examines the difference between the "pastoral" and "progressive"
ideals which characterized early 19th-century American culture, and which ultimately evolved into the basis for much of the environmental and nuclear debates of contemporary society.

This new edition is appearing in celebration…


Book cover of The Lie Detectors: The History of an American Obsession

Carroll Pursell Author Of The Machine in America: A Social History of Technology

From my list on technology interacting with American society.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've been teaching and writing in the field of the history of technology for over six decades, and it's not too much to say that the field and my professional career grew up together. The Society for the History of Technology began in 1958, and its journal, Technology and Culture, first appeared the following year. I've watched, and helped encourage, a broadening of the subject from a rather internal concentration on machines and engineering to a widening interest in technology as a social activity with cultural and political, as well as economic, outcomes. In my classes I always assigned not only original documents and scholarly monographs but also memoirs, literature, and films.

Carroll's book list on technology interacting with American society

Carroll Pursell Why did Carroll love this book?

Adler demonstrates that the lie detector is a rather simple machine, "a banal assemblage of medical technologies" (as he calls it) to measure blood pressure and perspiration, that has been widely used in America since its appearance between the wars. It was purported to sort out lies from the truth but the science behind it ranged from junk to speculative, and its evidence has never been accepted in courts of law.  It has not been used anywhere else in the world, and Adler concludes that it “belonged to [the]…American strain of the Enlightenment project to replace personal discretion with science.” As he shows however, personal discretion, in practice, lay at the very heart of its use and popularity. It was no doubt more humane than the “third degree” so commonly used by police to obtain confessions, but it was a machine that manufactured something less than the Truth.

By Ken Alder,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Lie Detectors as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The story of the lie detector takes us straight into the dark recesses of the American soul. It also leads us on a noir journey through some of the most storied episodes in American history. That is because the device we take for granted as an indicator of guilt or innocence actually tells us more about our beliefs than about our deeds. The machine does not measure deception so much as feelings of guilt or shame. As Ken Alder reveals in his fascinating and disturbing account, the history of the lie detector exposes fundamental truths about our culture: why we…


Book cover of Kiwis Might Fly: A New Zealand Adventure

Patrick Forsyth Author Of Smile Because It Happened: Antidotes to Melancholy in Thailand, the Land of Smiles

From my list on feeding your lust for travel.

Why am I passionate about this?

I worked for many years in business consultancy before branching into other genres, including fiction. Through working regularly in Singapore I was able to travel around the region, finding I loved that part of the world. I came to regard Thailand as the jewel of Southeast Asia. I continue to visit and aim for my light-hearted travel writing to encourage others to enjoy the area and be ambitious in their travel plans. I regard my book as an invitation to share my love of a unique place and was delighted when one reviewer described my writing of it as “Brysonish.”

Patrick's book list on feeding your lust for travel

Patrick Forsyth Why did Patrick love this book?

This writer wrote a series of delightful travel books, but I have found nothing new from her recently, sadly. This book starts wonderfully; the author passes her test to ride a full-size motorbike, which she can barely hold upright and decides (as you do) to test out her newly acquired skills by riding throughout New Zealand.

There is a good description here about a great country and humour too–all enhanced by the struggle to make progress with this, for her, a new form of transport.

By Polly Evans,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kiwis Might Fly as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

Polly Evans was a woman with a mission. Before the traditional New Zealand male hung up his sheep shears for good, Polly wanted to see this vanishing species with her own eyes. Venturing into the land of giant kauri trees and smaller kiwi birds, she explores the country once inhabited by fierce Maori who carved their enemies’ bones into cutlery, bushwhacking pioneers, and gold miners who lit their pipes with banknotes—and comes face-to-face with their surprisingly tame descendants. So what had become of the mighty Kiwi warrior?

As Polly tears through the countryside at seventy-five miles…


Book cover of Pulp Vietnam: War and Gender in Cold War Men's Adventure Magazines

Beth Bailey Author Of An Army Afire: How the US Army Confronted Its Racial Crisis in the Vietnam Era

From my list on unexpected histories of the US military.

Why am I passionate about this?

I started my career as a historian of gender and sexuality, but in what I sometimes describe as a mid-career crisis I became a historian of the US Army. I love doing research in archives, piecing together the scraps of stories and conversations into a broader whole, figuring out how people made sense of the world they lived in. The books I write make arguments that I hope will be useful to other historians and to military leaders, but I also want people to enjoy reading them. 

Beth's book list on unexpected histories of the US military

Beth Bailey Why did Beth love this book?

This book insists that we need to think about the ways that what we read or view may shape the way we see the world.

Greg Daddis has waded through mountains of “macho pulps”—the massively-popular war-focused men’s adventure magazines from the 1950s and 1960s, with titles like True Men, Male, Valor, and Battle Cry—to show us how they portrayed men and war.

He asks how these stories of outsized heroism (often accompanied by sexual conquest) may have shaped the expectations of the young men sent to fight in Vietnam.

Pulp Vietnam is a masterful balancing act, never insisting that A → B, but refusing to treat popular culture as nothing more than a story. And the color photo insert is worth the price all by itself!

By Gregory A. Daddis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Pulp Vietnam as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this compelling evaluation of Cold War popular culture, Pulp Vietnam explores how men's adventure magazines helped shape the attitudes of young, working-class Americans, the same men who fought and served in the long and bitter war in Vietnam. The 'macho pulps' - boasting titles like Man's Conquest, Battle Cry, and Adventure Life - portrayed men courageously defeating their enemies in battle, while women were reduced to sexual objects, either trivialized as erotic trophies or depicted as sexualized villains using their bodies to prey on unsuspecting, innocent men. The result was the crafting and dissemination of a particular version of…


Book cover of Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire

Robert E. May Author Of Manifest Destiny's Underworld: Filibustering in Antebellum America

From my list on U.S. filibustering.

Why am I passionate about this?

I discovered the “filibusters” during my very first weeks in graduate school and have been learning and writing books and articles about them ever since. I think that what initially intrigued me was that they had outsized importance in U.S. politics and diplomacy, and were often front-page news before the Civil War, and yet I had never heard about them growing up. I was also intrigued because these men were so unlike myself. I can’t in my wildest moments even imagine joining a tiny bunch of armed men in an illegal expedition to a foreign land, risking death in the field or jail if I ever made it back home!

Robert's book list on U.S. filibustering

Robert E. May Why did Robert love this book?

Better than any other study on filibustering, Amy Greenberg treats it through the lens of gender, and she is particularly interested in public opinion about filibustering. Mass rallies in support of filibuster invasions of Cuba and Central America occurred in U.S. cities in the 1850s, providing funds, recruits, and moral support for criminal enterprises. What did gender have to do with who approved of filibustering, and who didn’t? What did filibustering have to do with ideas about what constituted proper masculinity? Did women participate in filibustering in any way, and did images of exoticized women in other parts of the world affect the attitudes of male filibusters?

Greenberg uses a fascinating variety of sources, including cartoons, poetry, travel accounts, and artwork, to convey the ambience of the filibustering world. Intriguingly, she both links and differentiates what she found about U.S. expansionist initiatives in Latin America before the Civil War to…

By Amy S. Greenberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Manifest Manhood and the Antebellum American Empire as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The US-Mexico War (1846-8) brought two centuries of dramatic territorial expansionism to a close, seemingly fulfilling America's Manifest destiny. Or did it? As politicians schemed to annex new lands in Latin America and the Pacific, some Americans took expansionism into their own hands. From 1848-60, an epidemic of unsanctioned attacks by American mercenaries (filibusters) took place. This book documents the potency of Manifest destiny in the antebellum era, and situates imperial lust in the context of social and economic transformations that were changing the meaning of manhood and womanhood in the US. Easy victory over Mexico in 1848 led many…


Book cover of Brutes in Suits: Male Sensibility in America, 1890-1920

Marian Lindberg Author Of Scandal on Plum Island: A Commander Becomes the Accused

From my list on power, gender politics, and stereotypes in America.

Why am I passionate about this?

Based on my experiences as a single parent and worker in traditionally male fields (journalism and law, back when newsrooms and law firms resembled men's clubs), I believe that each person contains both “feminine” and “masculine” behaviors and feelings. Yet socially constructed gender norms discourage people from exhibiting this full range of being. Ben Koehler’s troubling and tragic story presented a way to explore the origins of 20th-century American gender norms while trying to solve the mystery of Ben’s guilt or innocence. A bonus was the opportunity to write about Plum Island, an environmental treasure with a fascinating history that many people, including myself, are seeking to preserve and open to the public.

Marian's book list on power, gender politics, and stereotypes in America

Marian Lindberg Why did Marian love this book?

Pettegrew, a historian, also portrays Roosevelt as brute-in-chief at the turn of the 20th century, but he zooms out and describes other social forces in the United States that contributed to the emergence of the militaristic definition of manhood. These include the mythologizing of the Civil War as a noble display of male honor, divorcing the war from its roots in slavery and mistreatment of Blacks. He shows how the advocates for stronger men—and dependent women—“self-consciously used Darwinian biology to classify brutishness as an essential and natural male trait.” The book provides a fascinating and comprehensive look at the complicated ways in which gender stereotypes have been created and perpetuated in America.

By John Pettegrew,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Brutes in Suits as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Are men truly predisposed to violence and aggression? Is it the biological fate of males to struggle for domination over women and vie against one another endlessly? These and related queries have long vexed philosophers, social scientists, and other students of human behavior. In Brutes in Suits, historian John Pettegrew examines theoretical writings and cultural traditions in the United States to find that, Darwinian arguments to the contrary, masculine aggression can be interpreted as a modern strategy for taking power. Drawing ideas from varied and at times seemingly contradictory sources, Pettegrew argues that traditionally held beliefs about masculinity developed largely…


Book cover of I Don't Want to Talk About It: Overcoming the Secret Legacy of Male Depression

Bret Lyon Author Of Embracing Shame: How to Stop Resisting Shame and Turn It into a Powerful Ally

From my list on healing shame and trauma.

Why am I passionate about this?

I spent many years deeply angry at my parents and not really understanding why. When I found out about shame, and how it was passed down from generation to generation, I was finally able to crack the code. Their “permissiveness” was actually neglect. Without meaning to, they had put their shame on me and I was still suffering from not really being seen. I made it my mission to help others heal their shame so they can be better people and better parents, and live fuller lives. I am the co-director of the Center for Healing Shame and co-author of Embracing Shame.

Bret's book list on healing shame and trauma

Bret Lyon Why did Bret love this book?

Shame is the major factor in all depression, and when I substituted “shame” every time Real used the word “depression,” I realized I had found the definitive work on how shame operates on men. I have all my male clients read it, and it has changed many lives.

The book reads in many ways like a novel. Real frames the book with stories about his father: It starts with descriptions of how depressed his father was and how difficult it was to connect with him in his depression and isolation. And it ends with Real finally getting his father (and himself) to acknowledge the love between them.  

By Terrence Real,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I Don't Want to Talk About It as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A bestseller for over 20 years, I Don’t Want to Talk About It is a groundbreaking and hopeful guide to understanding and destigmatizing male depression, essential not only for men who may be suffering but for the people who love them.

Twenty years of experience treating men and their families has convinced psychotherapist Terrence Real that depression is a silent epidemic in men—that men hide their condition from family, friends, and themselves to avoid the stigma of depression’s “un-manliness.” Problems that we think of as typically male—difficulty with intimacy, workaholism, alcoholism, abusive behavior, and rage—are really attempts to escape depression.…


Book cover of The Company He Keeps: A History of White College Fraternities

Jana Mathews Author Of The Benefits of Friends: Inside the Complicated World of Today's Sororities and Fraternities

From my list on making you wish you joined a sorority or fraternity.

Why am I passionate about this?

In 2011, I was a newly minted college professor who was trying to support my students’ interests (Greek life) in hopes that they would return the favor and support mine (medieval literature). Never in a million years would I have guessed that accepting an invitation to attend a Greek event on campus would snowball into receiving a bid to join a National Panhellenic Conference sorority and serve as its faculty advisor. Somewhere along the way, I realized that my perspective uniquely positioned me to shed new light on the longstanding controversies plaguing these organizations and provide a new lens through which to view their impact not only on campus culture but society at large. 

Jana's book list on making you wish you joined a sorority or fraternity

Jana Mathews Why did Jana love this book?

Often viewed as the fraternity counterpart to Turk’s history of sororities, this book chronicles the rise of white fraternities on college campuses, with a specific focus on the role that these organizations play in the construction of American masculinity.

What do fraternities have in common with freemasonry? What was their role during Prohibition and the Civil Rights Movement? How and why did hazing rituals start—and why are they often sexual?

This book is chock full of lightbulb moments that will make everything about contemporary fraternity culture make so much more sense.

By Nicholas L. Syrett,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Company He Keeps as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tracing the full history of traditionally white college fraternities in America from their days in antebellum all-male schools to the sprawling modern-day college campus, Nicholas Syrett reveals how fraternity brothers have defined masculinity over the course of their 180-year history. Based on extensive research at twelve different schools and analyzing at least twenty national fraternities, The Company He Keeps explores many factors--such as class, religiosity, race, sexuality, athleticism, intelligence, and recklessness--that have contributed to particular versions of fraternal masculinity at different times. Syrett demonstrates the ways that fraternity brothers' masculinity has had consequences for other students on campus as well,…


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