416 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 19 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6393-7
Published: February 2021
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-2693-2
Published: April 2016
eBook ISBN: 978-1-4696-2694-9
Published: February 2016
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Awards & distinctions
2017 Peter J. Gomes Memorial Book Prize, Massachusetts Historical Society
2016 John Lyman Book Award, North American Society for Oceanic History
Finalist, New England Society Book Awards, New England Society in the City of New York
Fleshing out the multiple careers of Nathaniel Bowditch, this book is at once a lively biography, a window into the birth of bureaucracy, and a portrait of patrician life, giving us a broader, more-nuanced understanding of how powerful capitalists operated during this era and how the emerging quantitative sciences shaped the modern experience.
About the Author
Tamara Plakins Thornton is professor of history at the State University of New York, Buffalo.
For more information about Tamara Plakins Thornton, visit the Author Page.
“A superb biography . . . vivid, sometimes witty, prose . . . a deft, deeply informed account.”--Thornton’s “thoroughly researched, gracefully written study locates him [Bowditch] in the several historical contexts to which he belonged: New England society and culture, business management, and science . . . a major contribution to our understanding of the early republic”--Richard D. Brown, New England Quarterly
“Much more than a well-researched and engaging biography”—Thornton “shows how Bowditch’s insistence on arithmetic order . . . a new spirit of numbers . . . contributed to a sea change in American life.”--Theodore M. Porter, Journal of Interdisciplinary History
"A remarkable book . . . a real pleasure to read. . . . Thornton writes beautifully and uncomplicatedly about subjects that are neither beautiful nor uncomplicated. She breathes life and excitement into ledger books, forms, and actuarial tables and paints vivid portraits of corporate board meetings. . . . a scholarly biography of Bowditch that is deeply engaged with the historiography of American capitalism”--A “great achievement”--Gautham Rao, American Historical Review
“An enormously learned book about an intellectually challenging subject . . . [bringing] Bowditch to life in order to show us something about the power of numbers to regulate the world—a power that we now know so well we forget it was not always so.”—John Lauritz Larson, Reviews in American History
“[Thornton] describes in an enjoyable way the lifestyle and society of Salem, at that time a wealthy port town, second only to Boston in New England.”--International Journal of Maritime History
“This recommended biography rediscovers an eccentric who was key in improving several emerging industries. Readers of early American history will find a rich story that moves between New England high society and the founding of the natural sciences.”--Library Journal