Cover image for Nature incorporated : industrialization and the waters of New England
Nature incorporated : industrialization and the waters of New England
Steinberg, Theodore, 1961-
Personal Author:
First paperback edition.
Publication Information:
Amherst : University of Massachusetts Press, 1994.

Physical Description:
xv, 284 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
General Note:
Originally published: Cambridge, England ; New York : Cambridge University Press, 1991.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
TS1323.15 .S74 1991 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



A great deal of arrogance surrounds this late-twentieth-century attitude toward the environment, and a great deal of history as well. What started as a research paper at Brandeis University expanded into a book that explores the role of the Industrial Revolution in this aggressive stance toward the natural world. The transformation of nature is at least as old as our presence as a species on this planet. But the advent of the industrial age marked a shift in humankind's relations with the earth. Steinberg concerns himself mainly with describing this shift as it was felt in New England, to journey back to a time when the task of subduing nature was full of hard-fought battles and much less arrogance.

Author Notes

Theodore Steinberg teaches history at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, Newark.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Steinberg's book is a clear, detailed, and sometimes moving account of the industrialization of the Merrimack River Valley in New Hampshire and Massachusetts, in the years between 1796 and 1894. Drawing on government reports, newspapers, court records, and literary sources, Steinberg shows how businessmen and lawyers formed companies to build dams to control the flow of the river and its tributaries, and how they defeated the farmers and fishermen who tried to invoke English common law rights to the rivers. It is a tale of environmental degradation and engineering triumph. It is also the story of how water came to be defined as private property. The author does an excellent job of showing the interconnections among dam builders, mill owners, farmers, and public health officials, who each saw the river system differently but who shared the belief that unused water was wasted water. The roots of the present water crisis in the West lie deep in the rocky soil of the East. Everyone interested in environmental history, the history of business and technology, legal history, and the history of New England will want to read this book. Footnotes are placed at the bottom of the page, the maps and illustrations are clear, and the index is complete.-B. Mergen, George Washington University

Table of Contents

zPart I Origins
1 The transformation of water
2 Control of water company
3 Waters
Part II Maturation
4 The struggle over water
5 The law of water
6 Depleted waters
7 Fouled water
Part III Decline
8 The productive value of water