Pieces of the Action

(Author) (Foreword by)
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Product Details
$24.00  $22.32
Stripe Press
Publish Date
6.3 X 9.3 X 1.3 inches | 2.03 pounds

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About the Author
Vannevar Bush (1890-1974) was an engineer, inventor, and architect of public-sector funding for scientific research. As chairman of the US National Defense Research Committee and director of the US Office of Scientific Research and Development during World War II, he oversaw a wide-ranging R&D program that paired government funding with scientific research, resulting in the development of radar and the initiation of the Manhattan Project. He conducted foundational research in computer science, including the invention of the differential analyzer. He served as vice president of MIT and first dean of the MIT School of Engineering, president of the Carnegie Institute of Washington, and chairman of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. His 1945 essay "As We May Think" in the Atlantic Monthly is credited with anticipating aspects of personal computing and the internet, while his government report Science, The Endless Frontier laid the groundwork for the founding of the National Science Foundation.
"Scientific and technological progress depend crucially on
leadership. Bush understood this better than anyone, and he had a
front-row seat to the most important R&D work of the 20th century.
This candid memoir gave me a better understanding of how research
leadership works and why it's desperately needed."

--Jason Crawford, writer at The Roots of Progress

"Pieces of the Action provides a window into the way Bush saw
himself―not as a great man or leader, but as part of a larger cultural
tradition, equipping new generations with knowledge from past ones. I
came away encouraged and inspired by the knowledge that great things can
be built in spite of stagnation, rigid norms, and conventions, through
the determination and foresight of people who work to change
institutions―and build new ones, too."

--Saloni Dattani, cofounder and editor of Works in Progress and researcher at Our World in Data

"Pieces of the Action is not just about science and innovation, it's
about state capacity. Anyone who longs for renewed, effective
institutions will find the wisdom of a kindred spirit reflecting on how
to build them."

--Eli Dourado, economist and senior research fellow at the Center for Growth and Opportunity at Utah State University

"It's hard to deny that Vannevar Bush was at the nexus of an astounding
number of people and events that shaped the modern world. In Pieces of
the Action, he works hard to give us a window into his thought
processes, and from them distill timeless lessons about leadership,
research, institution building, and human nature. Bush was a scientist, a
statesman, an entrepreneur, a tinkerer, a leader, an educator, and an
excellent storyteller, and Pieces of the Action has a yarn and a lesson
for everyone."

--Ben Reinhardt, CEO of PARPA, researcher at the Astera Institute, and host of the Idea Machines podcast

"Pieces of the Action catalogs the scientists and engineers who were
pivotal to an Allied victory in World War II―and how the ad-hoc
organizations born out of that crisis ultimately provided the blueprints
for our modern scientific institutions. If you want to understand the
'man in the arena' at the center of it all, this discursive, blunt, and
often funny memoir is the best place to start."

--Alec Stapp, cofounder and co-CEO of the Institute for Progress

"Written without pretension. . . this volume will richly reward readers
from a wide variety of fields―science, engineering, industry,
education, the military, politics, and public and business

--Irvin Stewart, Science

"Pieces of the
Action is an often-whimsical ride through time and the mind of the man
whose insight, strategic instincts, and institutional empire-building
formed the basis of the modern scientific state. One comes away with a
view of scientific development that is anything but linear: the
gravitational weight of historical contingencies, idiosyncratic
personnel, and key management decisions described in Pieces of the
Action continue to profoundly impact us today."

--Caleb Watney, cofounder and co-CEO of the Institute for Progress