War, Technology, and Experience Aboard the USS <i>Monitor</i>

Front Cover
JHU Press, Mar 24, 2000 - History - 187 pages
5 Reviews

In a familiar story, the USS Monitor battled the CSS Virginia (the armored and refitted USS Merrimack) at Hampton Roads in March of 1862. In War, Technology, and Experience aboard the USS Monitor, David A. Mindell adds a new perspective to the story as he explores how mariners—fighting "blindly" below the waterline—lived and coped with the metal monster they called the "iron coffin." Mindell shows how the iron warship emerged as an idea and became practicable, how building it drew upon and forced changes in contemporary manufacturing technology, and how the vessel captured the nineteenth-century American popular and literary imaginations.

Combining technical, personal, administrative, and literary analysis, Mindell examines the experience of the men aboard the Monitor and their reactions to the thrills and dangers that accompanied the new machine. The invention surrounded men with iron and threatened their heroism, their self-image as warriors, even their lives. Mindell also examines responses to this strange new warship by Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville, who prophetically saw in the Civil War a portent of the mechanized warfare of the future. The story of the Monitor shows how technology changes not only the tools but also the very experience of combat, generating effects that are still felt today in the era of "smart bombs" and pushbutton wars.

"We find new significance in the otherwise well-known history of the Monitor. It is no longer the story of the heroic inventor and his impenetrable weapon thrusting themselves upon a doubtful and conservative bureaucracy... It is no longer the story of a heroic battle and the machine's epic loss soon after. Rather it is a story of people experiencing new machinery, attempting to make sense of its thrills, constrictions, and politics, and sensing its power and impotence—both in glory and frustration."—from War, Technology, and Experience aboard the USS Monitor

  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
1
4 stars
2
3 stars
2
2 stars
0
1 star
0

Review: War, Technology, and Experience Aboard the USS "Monitor"

User Review  - Joe - Goodreads

This book wasn't as interesting as I expected from the title. I was expecting something similar to the author's "Digital Apollo": an in-depth examination of the Monitor, and a tie-in to technology ... Read full review

Review: War, Technology, and Experience Aboard the USS "Monitor"

User Review  - Mark - Goodreads

A somewhat puzzling book. The title should probably be more like, "The Human Experience of Machine-Age Technology," since it's really more about how people adapt to technology, using the Monitor as a ... Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION A Strange Sort of Warfare i
31
William Keelers Epistolary Monitor
51
The Battle of Hampton Roads
70
Iron Ship in a Glass Case AprilSeptember 1862
87
Utilitarians View the Monitors Fighr 18621865
123
Notes
152
Bibliographical Essay
175
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results &raquo;

About the author (2000)

David A. Mindell is Dibner Associate Professor of the History of Engineering and Manufacturing in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at MIT. He has degrees in Electrical Engineering and Literature from Yale University and a Ph.D. in the History of Technology from MIT. His research interests include the history of military technology, the history of electronics and computing, and archaeology in the deep ocean. He is currently working on a history of feedback, control, and computing in the twentieth century, and on locating and imaging ancient shipwrecks and settlements in the deep regions of the Black Sea.