Feb 10, 2013

Engineers of Victory

(NYTBR) The historian Daniel Boorstin once complained to me about the Smithsonian Institution’s decision in 1980 to delete the final two words from the name of its Museum of History and Technology. Boorstin had a point. Scholars of other fields do often tend to underestimate the influence of technology. Although most of us know that World War II brought us radar, the literature of that titanic conflict is by no means exempt from this phenomenon. For instance, the biographer Joseph P. Lash subtitled his 1976 wartime account of Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill “The Partnership That Saved the West,” in response to which I once heard a British scholar carp, “If Lash is right, then why did all those scientists and intelligence officers and factory workers bother working so hard?” Continued