University of Houston Cullen College of Engineering


Lienhard’s New Book Earns Him September Author of the Month

Photo by Jeff Shaw

“Inventing Modern” Book Signing Sept. 6 at Barnes & Noble Town & Country Village

John Lienhard, M.D. Anderson Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering and History at the University of Houston, has just published his latest book by Oxford University Press that celebrates the inventive energy that made early 20th-century America modern.

Just as “Inventing Modern: Growing up with X-Rays, Skyscrapers, and Tailfins” hits the newsstands, Lienhard was named September Author of the Month with a reception, discussion and book signing at 2:00 p.m. on Sat., Sept. 6 at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore in Town and Country Village.

"Lienhard is a story-teller who informs and enchants. His book carries us on a riveting journey with twentieth-century technologies that created the worldview called modernity. In learning about these roots of modern, we learn about ourselves," said Stanley Joel Reiser, Griff T. Ross Professor of Humanities and Technology in Health Care at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.

In his latest book, he uses the word “modern” to capture the furious rush of newness in the first half of 20th-century America. Beyond the airplanes, radios, art deco, skyscrapers, Fritz Lang's Metropolis, Buck Rogers, the culture of the open road--Burma Shave, Kerouac, and White Castles--lie driving forces that set this account of Modern apart.

"This is vintage Lienhard: intellectually cosmopolitan and curious, wide-ranging and almost breathless, with an ability to knit together events and people into a mosaic that, like all good history, is greater than the sum of its parts, and all in a voice that is so rhythmical that the reader is drawn along almost involuntarily," said Richard J. Blackett, Andrew Jackson Professor of History at Vanderbilt University.

Inventing Modern is a personal book that displays, rather than defines, an age that ended before most of us were born. It is an engineer's homage to a time before the bomb and our terrible loss of confidence--a time that might yet rise again out of its own postmodern ashes.

Samuel C. Florman, author of The Existential Pleasures of Engineering, calls it "a delightful personal memoir, a provocative cultural history, and an instructive guide to science and technology--a splendid book that entertains, challenges and informs in equal measure."

Lienhard has worked as an engineer and educator since 1951, and is well known in thermal engineering. He has also written about, and taught, history since the 1970s. He is the author and host of The Engines of Our Ingenuity, a weekday radio essay on the history of creativity and invention (heard on many public radio stations), and he is author of the book by the same name.



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