By Neil Postman

A super strong and critical book....This is a brutal indictment Postman has laid down and, as far as i will be able to see, an irrefutable one. --Jonathan Yardley, Washington put up publication international.

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27 What were called "mechanics' and apprentices' libraries"--that is, libraries intended for the working class--also emerged as a force for literacy. In 1829, the New York Apprentices' Library housed ten thousand volumes, of which 1,600 apprentices drew books. 8 Aided by Congress' lowering of the postal rates in 1851, the penny newspaper, the periodical, the Sunday school tract, and the cheaply bound book were abundantly available. 29 And although the reading of novels was not considered an altogether reputable use of time, Americans devoured them.

Americans of the 1800's were very much concerned with the problem of "conquering" space. By the mid-nineteenth century, the frontier extended to the Pacific Ocean, and a rudimentary railroad system, begun in the 1830s had started to move people and merchandise across the continent. But until the 1840's, information could move only as fast as a human being could carry it; to be precise, only as fast as a train could travel, which, to be even more precise, meant about thirty-five miles per hour. In the face of such a limitation, the development of America as a national community was retarded.

It is no accident that the Age of Reason was coexistent with the growth of a print culture, first in Europe and then in America. the spread of typography kindled the hope that the world and its manifold mysteries could at least be comprehended, predicted, controlled. It is in the eighteenth century that the scientific method preeminent example of the analytic management of knowledge--begins its refashioning of the world. It is in the eighteenth century that capitalism is demonstrated to be a rational and liberal system of economic life, that religious superstition comes under furious attack, that the divine right of kings is shown to be a mere prejudice, that the idea of continuous progress takes hold, and that the necessity of universal literacy through education becomes apparent.

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