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Engineering: An Illustrated History from Ancient Craft to Modern Technology Review by Kelly Burgess

Ponderables Series: 100 Achievements That Changed History
EditedEdited by Tom Jackson
Shelter Harbor Press
603 W. 115th Street, Suite 163
New York, NY 10025

This wonderful book, which is part of the Ponderables history series from Shelter Harbor Press, explores one hundred technological achievements that have changed history, starting with stone technology and ending with solar power. It seems ideal for advanced readers, and I'd probably recommend it for teens to adults. 

Each of the one hundred topics covers anywhere from half a page to a full two-page spread. Wonderful, full-color illustrations and side-bar notations enhance the reader's understanding of the material. A brief, concise history of each topic is provided, from its invention to how it has transformed over time, and the impact it's had on modern society.

I was amazed as I read the history of the digital computer and looked at the images of how massive yet limited in use they were just decades before my birth. At the same time, I was seated in front of my laptop computer and marveled at how far the technology has come and how deeply integrated it has become in today's society.

I was fascinated with the article on genetic engineering that explained how scientists passed the genes of a jellyfish to some mice so that they inherited the ability to make proteins that glow in the dark. The photograph on the page showed how their eyes, ears, noses, and tails all lit up! That completely boggled my mind! It discussed how the technology of genetic engineering has impacted the agricultural and medical communities of today.

I had to laugh to myself when I read about the progress of corded phones to cell phones to the smart phones we use every day. Surprisingly, this device that spends so much time in our hands and serves so many purposes is a fairly recent development across my adult life. Now, smart phones seem almost like a necessity, as we rely on them so heavily. But in reality, it hasn't been that long since there was no such thing. I can even remember when cell phones were bulky and heavy, and few people had them. The article reminded me of how time flies, and how easily we forget how far technology has come, even in our own lifetimes.

I also read about ice houses, refrigeration, and the seed drill. This fascinating book covers everything from taming fire and irrigation to the Great Wall of China and robots. It's truly a remarkable read. It makes a lovely coffee table book to share with guests, and it's a great conversation starter. It's also one that I reach for when I just have a few minutes to relax and want to read about something stimulating and interesting. I found myself sharing tidbits of information with my children that fascinated them as much as it did me. My high school senior also found it a wonderful book to read at his leisure. I highly recommend it, and I have no doubt you'll enjoy it as much as I have. I look forward to exploring other books in the series, as well.

-Product review by Kelly Burgess, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2017