Jul 12, 2020
The Toothpick: Technology and Culture
Posted by Henry Petroski

Like The Pencil, Henry Petroski s The Toothpick is a celebration of a humble yet elegant device As old as mankind and as universal as eating, this useful and ubiquitous tool finally gets its due in this wide ranging and compulsively readable book Here is the unexpected story of the simplest of implements whether made of grass, gold, quill, or wood a story of engineeringLike The Pencil, Henry Petroski s The Toothpick is a celebration of a humble yet elegant device As old as mankind and as universal as eating, this useful and ubiquitous tool finally gets its due in this wide ranging and compulsively readable book Here is the unexpected story of the simplest of implements whether made of grass, gold, quill, or wood a story of engineering and design, of culture and class, and a lesson in how to discover the extraordinary in the ordinary.Petroski takes us back to ancient Rome, where the emperor Nero makes his entrance into a banquet hall with a silver toothpick in his mouth and to a recent time in Spain, where a young se orita uses the delicately pointed instrument to protect her virtue from someone trying to steal a kiss He introduces us to Charles Forster, a nineteenth century Bostonian and father of the American toothpick industry, who hires Harvard students to demand toothpicks in area restaurants thereby making their availability in eating establishments as expected as condiments And Petroski takes us inside the surprisingly secretive toothpick manufacturing industry, in which one small town s factories can turn out 200 million wooden toothpicks a day using methods that, except for computer controls, haven t changed much in almost 150 years He also explores a treasure trove of the toothpick s unintended uses and perils, from sandwiches to martinis and beyond.With an engineer s eye for detail and a poet s flair for language, Petroski has earned his reputation as a writer who explains our world from the tallest buildings to the lowliest toothpick to us.

  • Title: The Toothpick: Technology and Culture
  • Author: Henry Petroski
  • ISBN: 9780307266361
  • Page: 136
  • Format: Hardcover
  • The Toothpick Technology and Culture Like The Pencil Henry Petroski s The Toothpick is a celebration of a humble yet elegant device As old as mankind and as universal as eating this useful and ubiquitous tool finally gets its due in th

    Noel

    you might not want to read this if you re going to read the book it s actually all the best parts condensed into one page , but i suggest you DON T read the book, so read on the best quote With a toothpick, what we see is what we ve got inside a toothpick in the same wood that we see on the outside and this one didn t come until chapter 16 i feel that if that sentence was even necessary, perhaps it should have been placed closer to the intro best anecdote of the book One of these packers may hav [...]


    Jaime

    This book wasn t bad Considering it s subject matter, I actually breezed through it, learning a lot about toothpicks, patents, and business practices in the past I really want to try a Brazilian rosewood hand carved toothpick now


    John

    I know about toothpicks than any sane person has the right to know The first couple of chapters were the best in my opinion early uses.


    Tim

    Most boring book I have ever read Paint drying would be exciting This book could have been ten pages long and accomplished the same thing.


    Kyle

    I m not sure what I expected from this book, but I didn t find it I think I was looking for broader lessons about technology and culture that broadly applied to society, but those weren t present at all Instead, this book is simply a very, very comprehensive history of the toothpick But sometimes that history feels needlessly long For instance, one of the Forster heirs moves to San Diego That part is fine but then he spends time telling us the brief history of someone with the same last name wh [...]


    Dave

    An exhaustive and frankly, exhausting look at the toothpick throughout history Petroski is skilled at looking at common objects with an engineer s eyes He is able to discuss the technology that helps make an object common in the first place consistent, affordable reproduction and the cultural impetus which makes a society value the effort to invest in that technology When that happens an object becomes, almost paradoxically, common and iconic at the same time.Just too much toothpick lore after a [...]


    Cassie Eacker

    Book 18 completed for Book Riot Challenge A Microhistory I ve always been curious to the origins of the toothpicks, given that I take handfuls from every dining establishment that offers them and keep them with me So it was very interesting learning of the history and manufacturing and such, but the book itself read like a liberal arts college student s term paper on a subject that doesn t relate at all to their major There was a lot of research involved, sure, but the writing style seemed to be [...]


    Pierre Lauzon

    The Toothpick Technology and Culture is the twelfth Henry Petroski book I have read so you can tell I am a long term fan of his writing I expected The Toothpick to be something of a sequel to his famous tome, The Pencil.I m not sure if it was a lack of material or that the subject and players just weren t interesting The book really didn t work and seemed forced at times.I think there are a lot of better Henry Petroski books to read before delving into The Toothpick.


    Emilie

    It s hard to describe the ideal reader for this book It has a lot of history, which I found interesting, but it also some engineering related descriptions that I found difficult to follow pictures would have been nice I also found a little redundant at times and thought he could have left out some of the detail But it s certainly different and had lot of interesting information, and you can t deny his enthusiasm for the subject.


    Phil Breidenbach

    While he did come up with some interesting facts and stories aboutothpicks, there really is only so much I need to know about them I have to hand it to Henry for his fact finding skills I have read a couple of his books, The Pencil, a lot like this one, and The Book on the Bookshelf, a book I could really relate to This book was so so


    Matthew Philips

    I can t help but question if this is a book worthy subject It really just felt like a way too long research paper with some interesting or amusing factoids thrown in I love a toothpick and will continue to use them for numerous tasks in addition to their designated purpose but this book just wasn t necessary.


    Margaret Sankey

    Yes, someone wrote a social history of the tooth pick, and it is interesting than you thought the industry that grew up around making them commercially in New England, the patents, the marketing opportunities in distributing them as freebies with paper packaging, etiquette questions, choking hazards.


    Emily

    What are the chances that my library will actually have a book that is exclusively about toothpicks Also, what are the odds that you could have a friend who is nerdy enough to be interested in a book exclusively about toothpicks


    Coral

    It wasn t bad It was just much, much in depth than I needed it to be I was looking for something with of a How It s Made bent than a full blown history book.


    Rachel

    Books that explore a particular common object within its cultural, historical, and technological context are popular right now It s quite interesting when done properly Unfortunately, this book was both exhaustive and exhausting I would have liked it better at half the size, I think.


    Lanangbentara

    i am just start reading now


    Cheri

    Petroski can find fascinating details in darn near anything, so I shouldn t have been surprised at how enjoyable this exploration of the humble toothpick was.


    Alan Perry

    Lots of interesting points made in a disconnected and uninteresting manner.


    Charles

    I often thought I was a victim of an elaborate practical joke designed to see who would actually finish the book, but I love Petrovsky s writing and I marvel at the thoroughness of his research.


    Jen

    I should have assumed that an object so commonly used would have such a rich history with such interesting stories.


    David Webber

    I now know about toothpicks than any sane person has any reason to know


    Carl

    Too much business culture and not enough technology for an entire book.


    Stephanie

    Dr Petroski has written a number of books on the design of everyday objects I m particularly interested in this because Maine was the toothpick capital of the world at one time


    Steve

    How could you resist learning everything there is to know in appropriately minute detail about the genesis and bright future of the toothpick


    Corey

    Sigh, after 60 pages of aimless meandering thru various anecdotes all of which are vaguely connected at best about toothpicksah, I m bored and done.


    Dave

    A little disappointing I loved his The Pencil and most of the rest of his work According my wife they re all part of my Boring Book of the Month club but this one got really dry, even for me.



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      Published :2019-08-04T09:16:19+00:00