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Daniel R. Headrick, The Tools of Empire - Essay Example

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Daniel R. Headrick, The Tools of Empire

He argues throughout the book, with reference to many well-researched examples, that pre-Industrial Revolution, the journeying, living and conquering of such regions simply was not possible, as the technology was just not available for this to be achieved, managed or sustained successfully. However, as Headrick argues, with the onset of the Industrial Revolution and the technological advances this forged, these technological advances allowed people to travel and live in countries other than their own, such that the expansion of the Empire became possible at this period in history.
Continuing on from this general introduction, throughout the book, Headrick analyzes the technological advances that allowed this dominance to proceed, both by presenting a straight-forward mechanical analysis of the actions of the people and the inventions and technological advances involved, and by presenting a detailed analysis of secondary sources, which allows him to offer an interpretation of the thoughts and motivations of the people involved; this e...
Thus, the text moves forward apace, discussing what could be rather dry historical texts and documents, in a light and easy to read manner. This use of interpreting secondary sources for his own means, to present information from entirely his own perspective leads, however, to several major problems with the text, which will be discussed later in this review.
In the book, Headrick spends a long time discussing inventions of relevance in this period; for example, much of the book is devoted to a discussion of anti-malarial drugs and how they enabled Europeans to travel, live and work in the tropical regions. This discussion is not, however, centred around why there was a desire to colonize and conquer these regions and its people; indeed, the book steers away from this subject at every opportunity, almost as if it is something not to be discussed. Yet this is precisely the issue that is opportune in such a tome: in scientific or technological achievements, it is usually the motivations which drive people to achieve leaps of progress, and not the leaps of progress themselves which drive people to want to achieve technological or scientific advancement.
It would have been extremely interesting, as a reader, to be presented with alternate arguments for why at this particular point in history, aside from technological advances which enabled travel to these regions to become easier, Europeans decided to travel to these regions - what were they seeking Where did the funds for travel and expeditions come from How did they plan and execute journeys and colonisation strategies A more strategic analysis of the era, in terms of political and economic motivations would have been welcome, as this would have offered a complete picture of the events of the time, which ...Show more

Summary

Daniel R. Headrick's book is a staple of history teaching in the United States, discussing as it does, the rise of Europeans in the 'New' World, due to the introduction of new technologies that aided the advent of travel and conquests in these previously unexplored regions of the world…
Author : ludiejakubowski
Daniel R. Headrick, The Tools of Empire essay example
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