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One Good Turn: A Natural History of the…

One Good Turn: A Natural History of the Screwdriver and the Screw (2000)

by Witold Rybczynski

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Rybczynski, is a writer of some talent, and when asked to define "The Tool of the Millenium" he chose the variant of the inclined plane and it's application tool the screw and the screwdriver. When finally pushed to define the best screw he chose the Robertson pattern. It is also my favourite, but it does require a specialist screwdriver. Still I use a lot of them around the house, and you only need three drivers to cover all the different screw sizes. The book is surprisingly interesting and may be a good present for the technologist in your circle. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Jan 16, 2018 |
This was a bit like being cornered by a uncle at a party. The kind of uncle that is charming and erudite but not very good at listening, so you have to hear all the details that you're not interested in as well as the good bits. The good bits are definitely there, but I'm not sure they're worth it. ( )
  wester | Apr 25, 2015 |
I'm not quite sure where this book came from. I reached into a box while unpacking, looked down and though "Now why would I ever have this?" I still don't know, it's one of the few mystery books that have shown up over the years. It is a short book, less than 150 pages, with several well drawn diagrams and even a picture glossary of tools to refer to as you read.

I was surpisingly drawn into it, considering its about tools, and I don't have much of a fit-it-up bone in my body. I'm more of the tear it down and look pleadingly at my boyfried to put it back together type.

The author starts by giving us a reason why he felt compelled to research the screw and screwdriver of all things. He then walks us through a good chunk of his research as he looks for the origins (which was suprisingly tricky). Finally, he walks us backwards through time through all the various stages and uses of the screw(driver). I would have prefered to start at the beginning and work our way to modern times, so it was a bit confusing for me jumping backwards but I can understand why he wrote that way.

An interesting book to keep mmy occupied for an afternoon...lovely sketches throughout as well. ( )
  jasmyn9 | Aug 31, 2009 |
QI type discussion on the origins and development of the screw etc. All to down to your landed gentry looking after themselves. Wonderful detailed case study on unintentional consequence- better screws led to better lathes that lead to factories long before the Manchester revolution. Read and do a Steven Fry. ( )
  ablueidol | Apr 28, 2009 |
Screwdrivers > History/Screws > History
  Budzul | Jun 1, 2008 |
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This all starts with a telephone call from David Shipley, an editor at the New York Times.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0684867303, Paperback)

In 1999, an editor of the New York Times Magazine approached Witold Rybczynski, the well-known student of architecture and urban design, and asked him to write a short essay on the best and most useful common tool of the past millennium. Rybczynski took the assignment, but when he began to look into the history of the items in his workshop--hammers and saws, levels and planes--he found that almost all of them had pedigrees that extended well into antiquity. Nearly ready to admit defeat, he asked his wife for ideas. Her answer was inspired: "You always need a screwdriver for something."

True enough. And, Rybczynski discovered, the screwdriver is a relative newcomer in humankind's arsenal of gadgetry, an invention of the late European Middle Ages and the only major mechanical device that the Chinese did not independently invent. Leonardo da Vinci got to it early on, of course, as he did so many other things, designing a number of screw-cutting machines with interchangeable gears. Still, it took generations for the screw (and with it the screwdriver and lathe) to come into general use, and it was not until the modern era that such improvements as slotted and socket screws came into being.

Rybczynski's explorations into that lineage, here expanded to book length, are highly entertaining, and sure to engage readers interested in the origins of everyday things. --Gregory McNamee

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:28 -0400)

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"... a story of mechanical discovery and genius ..."--Dust jacket.

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