During the nineteenth century, Scranton was the face of innovation, immigration, industrialization, and a rising America. Scranton was “the electric city” when electricity was the most exciting invention in the world, and a hub of technology and innovation—between 1840 and 1902, the city of Scranton changed from a lazy backwoods community to a modern industrial society with 100,000 residents. During this time, Scranton’s citizens desperately tried to adapt their thinking to keep up with the overwhelming changes around them, and in the process forged the world views that would define the twentieth century. As globalization, technology and immigration transform the United States today, this book revisits how the people the forefront of the industrial revolution moved from chaos to a new order, and how they found meaning within a rapidly changing world.
Periods of total societal transformation often provide the best material for historians. The way that Scranton’s residents reimagined their value within society in response to the changes around them did not evolve in step with technological and economic progress—rather, those living through these changes slowly and painfully adapted extant modes of thinking in light of their new life circumstances. This book weaves a cohesive narrative that explains how Scranton—and America—went from the personal, egalitarian society of the early days of the republic to the rigidly institutionalized society that endures today.
This book’s investigation of the history of Scranton allows the reader to witness the development of the distinct and interrelated ideologies that defined industrial America.
Now, I have to admit, I am not much of a history buff. My least favorite subject in school was always history. That being said, I still found this book to be fascinating! The way Mr. Brown uses a well-known and much-loved poem of the time, The Village Blacksmith by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, as a basis for comparing the ideals of the time and the ever-changing climate in Scranton, in my opinion, was inspired.
I truly enjoyed reading about the ever-changing political, economic, and societal situations that drove the formation of Scranton. From its rather humble beginnings as a small scattering of dwellings known as Slocum's Hollow, with a meager population of 100, to the booming industrial town fuelled by anthracite coal and iron production that Scranton became, Mr. Brown skillfully weaves Scranton's history with intricate familiarity and detailed narrative into a truly fascinating story.
Anyone who has ever wondered or wanted to learn more about how industrialization changed the face of our nation's small towns will find this an excellent read. I give it 4 pawprints!
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***FTC Disclosure: I was provided with an unbound galley proof of this book in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given, and all opinions are my own***