Thursday, November 29, 2018
What Have the Americans Ever Done for the World?
Leave it to a Brit to remind us of our amazing legacy in Atom Bomb to Santa Claus! Basically a book of trivia on American inventions and inventors and artists in all categories of life, readers will be amazed at just what America can be thanked (or blamed) for.
Like air conditioning, first installed in 1924 at Detroit's J. L. Hudson Department store.
Author Trevor Homer briefly traces the history of shaving, including the Perrett "safety" razor that had a blade set in a wooden guard. But it took Americans King Camp Gillette, William Painter and William Nickerson to create the safety razor with disposable blades (thereby creating an eternal after-market).
Today across the world people of every class wear jeans, with zippers, both American born.
Bubblegum! Sliced bread! Coco-Cola! Liquid Paper! Kentucky Fried Chicken! Post-it Notes!Bubble Wrap! Where would we be without bubble wrap to pop? The hamburger and the hot dog and pizza as we know it--all American cuisine--as is the chocolate chip cookie and potato chips.
Okay, let's get serious now. The computer mouse, the Internet, email, Facebook, GPS, search engines, and video games--all American inventions. And credit cards and ATMs. Then there is rocket science and Frisbees that look like flying saucers. Don't forget Robber Barons and the megastores Amazon and Wal-Mart. Even criminals and hate groups and judicial punishments get their due! (Not as inspiring a chapter. Nor is the Weapons of War, from the revolver to the Atom Bomb.)
Howard covers music, too. Jazz and Rock and Roll and Punk and all the dance crazes and the machines we played records on, the Gramophone and the Jukebox (patented in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1905). And writers and architects and sports heroes and fashion designers.
I love the chapter on Unlikely Inventors. Where else would I learn that George Washington created the wine coaster to protect his linen tablecloths? Or that the swivel chair I sit on while typing this was an invention by Thomas Jefferson? Actor Steve McQueen invented the bucket seat for his racing cars and Zeppo Marx of the Marx Brothers invented the clamp which held the atomic bomb safe within the Enola Gay.
Then there are the movers and shakers of the world of invention, the Masters of Change, visionary inventors, moral leaders, and Thomas Nast, artist of political cartoons whose portrayal of Santa Claus set the standard which was later embellished by Coca-Cola's iconic Santa Claus ads.
Medical advancements and inventions include the polio vaccine (thanks to Henrietta Lack's immortal cells) and heart surgery to Botox and Viagra.
Howard ends his collection with a reminder of the basic Freedoms that are enjoyed in America, noting that while we may be far from a Utopia, we are still an example of what can be achieved in a free country.
Thank you, Mr. Howard, for reminding us.
I received a free ebook from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.
Atom Bomb to Santa Claus: What Have the Americans Ever Done for Us?
by Trevor Homer
Pub Date 29 Nov 2018
PRICE: £9.99 (GBP)