History's Worst Inventions: And the People Who Made Them
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- 25th July 2009
- 256 pages - 227 x 170 xmm
The people in this book set out to change the world with their brilliant new discovery or design. At best, they failed monumentally; at worse, they changed the world in ways for which no one will thank them. "History's Worst Inventions" is an entertaining look at the failures of celebrated inventors and less well-known (for good reason) pioneers. The book includes the parachute-overcoat (its inventor leapt from the Eiffel Tower to demonstrate it and plunged to his death), Trevethick's locomotive (too heavy for its rails and broke them), Soviet anti-tank dogs (with mines strapped to their backs, they turned on their owners and blew up an entire Red Army division) and TGN1412 (the drug which, in its 2006 clinical trial, nearly killed its test subjects). A compendium of cock-ups, "History's Worst Inventions" provides a clear warning - it's all too easy to go down in history as an idiot!
Eric Chaline is currently conducting doctoral research in sociology at London's South Bank University. His previous publications include The Book of Gods & Goddessess (2004, HarperEntertainment) and The Traveller's Guide to the Ancient World (2008, David & Charles).