Books: Production Man

WHITTLING BOY—Roger Burlingame —Harcourt, Brace ($3).

Concerning Eli Whitney, scholars have ginned from history only a few pale fluffs of information. Roger Burlingame, social-minded historian of U. S. invention (Engines of Democracy, etc.), has woven these factual fluffs, plus a few skeins of imaginative ersatz, into an attractive fabric which is part novel, part biography: Whittling Boy—the Story of Eli Whitney.

Young Eli Whitney developed his mechanical skill in the rustic smithies which forged muskets for General Washington's troops. But when peace came, folk expected their new Confederation to become a great nation through the inventions of lawyers, not of tinkerers. So, despite...

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