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James Nasmyth: Engineer; an autobiography   By: (1808-1890)

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James Nasmyth: Engineer; an autobiography is a captivating and insightful account of the life and achievements of one of the most influential engineers of the 19th century. In this autobiography, James Nasmyth takes readers on a journey through his remarkable career, from his early days in Scotland to his groundbreaking inventions and contributions to the Industrial Revolution.

Nasmyth's writing style is engaging and personable, making the reader feel as if they are having a conversation with him. He narrates his life experiences with remarkable attention to detail, providing an intimate look into the challenges he faced and the triumphs he achieved. Nasmyth's anecdotes are both informative and entertaining, allowing readers to not only learn about his technical accomplishments but also get a glimpse into his personality and the era he lived in.

One of the highlights of this autobiography is Nasmyth's vivid descriptions of his innovative creations, such as the steam hammer, which revolutionized industrial manufacturing processes. His passion for engineering shines through his words, making it evident that he truly loved his work and was driven by a desire to push technological boundaries.

Furthermore, Nasmyth's autobiography offers valuable insights into the social, political, and economic climate of the time. He discusses the impact of the Industrial Revolution on society, shedding light on the challenges faced by workers and the broader implications of his inventions. This broader context adds depth to Nasmyth's personal narrative, giving readers a more holistic understanding of his career and the era he lived in.

Additionally, the autobiography features numerous illustrations and diagrams that enhance the reading experience, allowing readers to visualize Nasmyth's inventions and comprehend the technical aspects of his work more easily. These visual aids, combined with Nasmyth's clear explanations, make his complex engineering concepts accessible to readers with various levels of technical expertise.

One minor drawback of the autobiography is Nasmyth's occasional tendency to stray into unrelated tangents. While these tangents provide interesting insights into his personal life and interests, they can sometimes disrupt the flow of the narrative. Nonetheless, this does not detract significantly from the overall quality of the book.

In conclusion, James Nasmyth: Engineer; an autobiography is a captivating and informative read that offers a unique perspective on the life and accomplishments of a pioneering engineer. Nasmyth's passion for engineering, combined with his engaging writing style, make this autobiography a must-read for anyone interested in the history of technology and the Industrial Revolution.

First Page:

James Nasmyth: Engineer, An Autobiography.

Edited by Samuel Smiles, LL.D.

(this Etext is taken from the popular edition, pub. John Murray 1897)


I have had much pleasure in editing the following Memoir of my friend Mr. Nasmyth. Some twenty years since (in April 1863), when I applied to him for information respecting his mechanical inventions, he replied: "My life presents no striking or remarkable incidents, and would, I fear, prove but a tame narrative. The sphere to which my endeavours have been confined has been of a comparatively quiet order; but, vanity apart, I hope I have been able to leave a few marks of my existence behind me in the shape of useful contrivances, which are in many ways helping on great works of industry."

Mr. Nasmyth, nevertheless, kindly furnished me with information respecting himself, as well as his former master and instructor, Henry Maudslay, of London, for the purpose of being inserted in Industrial Biography, or Ironworkers and Toolmakers, which was published at the end of 1863. He was of opinion that the outline of his life there presented was sufficiently descriptive of his career as a mechanic and inventor.

During the years that have elapsed since then, Mr. Nasmyth has been prevailed upon by some of his friends more especially by Sir John Anderson, late of Woolwich Arsenal to note down the reminiscences of his life, with an account of his inventions, and to publish them for the benefit of others... Continue reading book >>

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