June 21, 2019
This is the story how Americans invented so many crucial elements of the modern world—or made them better, cheaper, easier to use, indispensable, or absolutely beloved. But it is as well the story of how we became the nation that made this level of invention possible, how we attracted the people, set the rules, and provided the education, the capital, and the encouragement that made it all work.
America the Ingenious looks at 76 different inventions or innovations, including many things we don’t normally think of as being inventions at all. From the electric guitar to the prairie schooner, the roller coaster to the oil rig, the whaling ship to jazz and the blues—and three of our most world-renowned cities—this is how we did it, and how we can do it again. Here are the men and the women, the human stories and the miraculous technologies, the epiphanies, the hard work, and the striving, that made America all that it could become.
Kevin Baker (CC ‘80), is a novelist, historian, and journalist, based in New York City. He is the author of five novels, including four historical novels about New York, The Big Crowd (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), and his "City of Fire" trilogy—Dreamland, Paradise Alley, and Strivers Row—all with HarperCollins. He has also written a graphic novel, Luna Park, with the artist Danijel Zezelj. Kevin is the author or co-author of five nonfiction books, including America the Ingenious, with Workman Publishing, and the forthcoming, The Fall of a Great American City, out this fall from City Point Press. He has written for many major periodicals, including The New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Republic, and American Heritage, and is currently a columnist and contributing editor at Harper's Magazine. He received a 2017 Guggenheim Fellowship for a history of America between the world wars, to be entitled, The Invention of Paradise, and at present is completing a history of New York City baseball and working on a documentary script for Florentine Films.