In this volume Josephson provides an examination of the ways in which science, engineering, policy, finance and hubris have come together, often with unforeseen consequences, to perpetuate what he calls "brute-force technologies" - large-scale systems created to manage water, forest and fish resources. Throughout the 20th century, nations with quite different political systems and economic orientations all pursued this same technological subjugation of nature. Josephson compares the Soviet Union's heavy-handed efforts at resource management to similar projects undertaken in the US, Norway, Brazil and China. He argues that "brute-force technologies" require brute-force politics to operate. He shows how irresponsible - or well-intentioned but misguided - large-scale manipulation of nature has resulted in resource loss and severe environmental degradation. He explores the ongoing industrialization of nature that is happening in our own backyards and around the world. Both a cautionary tale and a call for action, Josephson urges us to consider how to develop a future for succeeding generations that avoids the pitfalls of brute-force technologies.
Paul R. Josephson is associate professor of history at Colby College. He is the author of Red Atom: Russia's Nuclear Power Program from Stalin to Today (Freeman, 1999), Totalitarian Science and Technology (Humanities, 1996), and New Atlantis Revisited: Akademgorodok, the Siberian City of Science (Princeton, 1997), which won the Shulman Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies. He has published articles in Physics Today, The Christian Science Monitor, Newsday, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, and The New York Times.