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Drawing on interviews with participants and archival documents, W. Patrick McCray describes the ambitions and machinations of prominent astronomers, engineers, funding patrons and politicians in their effort to construct a modern facility for cutting-edge science - and to establish a model for international co-operation in the era of "megascience". Besides exploring how and why scientists embraced the promise and potential of new technologies, McCray considers how these new tools affected what it means to be an astronomer.