Prime Movers of Globalization


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A stimulating book that connects the past with the future, from an outstanding writer who knows all about sustainability and the issues that make it such a challenge for us. -- John B. Heywood, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, Sun Jae Professor, Emeritus, MIT In Prime Movers, Smil's passion for the Cinderellas of civilization focuses on the diesel engines and gas turbines that power ocean vessels and wide-body jets. These engines have made ocean shipping and intercontinental air travel so cheap that they have changed the face of our planet. Marshall McLuhan's dreams of a Global Village have become true in unimagined ways. Being an engineer myself, I admire the way Smil portrays the human Cinderellas of the industrial world: the unsung engineers who made momentous advances in the reliability and efficiency of their machines. Smil's book makes me proud of my profession. -- Henk Tennekes, author of The Simple Science of Flight Smil masterfully traces the technological evolution and impact of diesel engines and gas turbines, and makes a convincing case for their role as prime movers of globalization -- even though these technologies escape public notice, buried in the bowels of ships, trucks, and power plants, and humming reliably under the wings of planes. -- Rajan Gupta, Fellow, Los Alamos National Laboratory

About the Author

Vaclav Smil is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the University of Manitoba. He is the author of forty books, including Energy and Civilization, published by the MIT Press. In 2010 he was named by Foreign Policy as one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers. In 2013 Bill Gates wrote on his website that "there is no author whose books I look forward to more than Vaclav Smil."


By scrutinizing common yet often-overlooked technologies, Smil offers a fresh and useful perspective on world economics.

-Mark Reutter, Wilson Quarterly

Mr. Smil's account of the engineering advances throughout the late 19th and 20th centuries-advances that brought the world large marine diesels and gas turbines-is first-rate history, both thorough and compelling.

-Nick Schulz, The Wall Street Journal

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