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Nature Incorporated explores the Industrial Revolution in New England from an environmental perspective. The advent of the industrial age brought about significant changes in gender and class relations, and also in work and culture, but it also involved a fundamental change in the way the natural world was handled. Focusing on the legendary Waltham-Lowell style mills, Nature Incorporated examines how these textile factories brought water under their exclusive control. It examines the legal issues that arose in settling disputes over water. And it describes the far reaching ecological consequences of industrial change. Steinberg offers a reinterpretation of industrialization that centers on the struggle to control and master nature.
Part I. Origins:
1. The transformation of water
2. Control of water company
Part II. Maturation:
4. The struggle over water
5. The law of water
6. Depleted waters
7. Fouled water
Part III. Decline:
8. The productive value of water
"Steinberg has successfully demonstrated the devastating impact of industrialization on the environment of the Merrimack Valley."
- The New England Quarterly
"Steinberg has written a major contribution to not only environmental history, but to the history of industrialization itself. He has used the tools of legal history, social history, and technological history to create an environmental history of industrialization which should be read by all students of nineteenth-century America."
- Journal of Social History
"Nature Incorporated is an important book. Not only does the author add an important environmental dimension to New England's history, but he provides a thoughtful analysis of water's transformation from being a part of nature to a mere commodity."
"Steinberg's book is a clear, detailed, and sometimes moving account of the industrializaton of the Merrimack River Valley in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, in the years between 1796 and 1894 [...] The author does an excellent job of showing the interconnections among dam builders, mill owners, farmers, and public health officials who saw the river system differently but who shared the belief that unused was wasted water [...] Everyone interested in environmental history, the history of business and technology, legal history, and the history of New England will want to read this book."
"[...] a lucid, useful case study [...]"
- Christopher Clark, American Historical Review
"Theodore Steinberg brings a much-needed environmental perspective to the study of industrial development [...] Steinberg warns that we have been 'lulled into thinking that nature can be dominated at will,' and he shows us how that illusory attitude developed."
- Patrick M. Malone, The Journal of American History
"The subject is fresh, the research is thorough, and the findings are significant [...] The author's compelling story makes a significant contribution to legal history."
- Donald J. Pisani, Business History Review
"[...] an elegantly written, well-researched monograph that sets a high standard in environmental history."
- Geoffrey Tweedale, Isis
"Nature Incorporated is an imaginative and innovative work offering rich new perspectives on a familiar topic. It is a strong reminder of the contribution that interdisciplinary approaches so central to environmental history make to an understanding of the past."
- Thomas Dublin, Journal of Interdisciplinary History