In this work, Nicols Fox examines contemporary resistance to technology and places it in a surprising historical context. She illuminates the rich but oftentimes unrecognized literary and philosophical tradition that has existed for nearly two centuries, since the first Luddites - the "machine breaking" followers of the mythical Ned Ludd - lifted their sledgehammers in protest against the Industrial Revolution. Tracing that current thought through some of the greatest minds of the 19th and 20th centuries - William Blake, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, John Ruskin, William Morris, Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Robert Graves, Aldo Leopold, and many others - Fox demonstrates that modern protests against consumptive lifestyles and misgivings about the relentless march of mechanization are part of a fascinating hidden history. She shows as well that the Luddite tradition can yield important insights into how we might reshape both technology and modern life so that human, community and environmental values take precedence over the demand of the machine.
Nicols Fox, an independent journalist for more than 20 years, has written on subjects ranging from emerging pathogens to the nature of laughter. She is the author of Spoiled: Why Our Food is Making Us Sick (BasicBooks, 1997) and It Was Probably Something You Ate (Penguin, 1999). She has appeared on numerous television programs, has written regularly for The Economist, and her articles, essays, and book reviews have been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and USA Today.