Cover: Dominance by Design: Technological Imperatives and America's Civilizing Mission, from Harvard University PressCover: Dominance by Design in PAPERBACK

Dominance by Design

Technological Imperatives and America's Civilizing Mission

Product Details


Print on Demand

$31.00 • £26.95 • €28.95

ISBN 9780674032163

Publication Date: 08/05/2009

Academic Trade

542 pages

18 halftones

Belknap Press


Add to Cart

Media Requests:

Related Subjects

[This] book is a compelling, well-written indictment of our ‘techno-hubris’ that should be required reading for this and subsequent presidents as well as historians of U.S. culture, politics, and technology.—Carolyn De La Pena, American Historical Review

In the past few years, bookstores have been deluged with books critical of American foreign policy, and specifically condemning he actions of the Bush administration in the Middle East. In Dominance by Design, Michael Adas carries that critical interpretation of American policy into the past, arguing that throughout history the attitudes and actions of Americans toward non-Western peoples have been characterized by condescension, arrogance, and violence… Adas attributes the moral blindness and overweening arrogance of the American people toward non-Western peoples to the powerful technologies they have adopted or developed.—Daniel R. Headrick, Journal of World History

Michael Adas has written an excellent and most timely study of the oft-forgotten role of technology in enabling and then justifying European colonization of North America, the westward expansion of the United States, and ultimately the emergence of the United States as a global power.—John H. Morrow, Technology and Culture

Adas has identified the leitmotif of American empire: not democracy, globalization, or ‘soft power,’ but technology. Technology sanctions conquest and justifies projects to reshape the lives, habits, and environments of distant peoples. Adas has given us an arresting, comprehensive narrative that will change the way we think.—Nick Cullather, Indiana University

Few scholars have so fully grasped the profound connection between exceptionalism, expansionism, and technological evangelism in American history. No one who seeks to understand this country’s past, present, or future can afford to ignore this masterful book.—Paul N. Edwards, University of Michigan

Dominance by Design is a wonderful piece of synthesis—smart, fluent, and wide-ranging. Michael Adas traces the arc of U.S. history and highlights what he calls technocentrism as a major source of American economic, military, and environmental mastery. This argument deserves a readership as broad as the scholarship on which it is based.—Michael Hunt, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

In this extraordinary, and extraordinarily important, book, Michael Adas not only gives us a fascinating historical overview of American technology but how faith in that technology’s power shaped (or tragically misshaped) American religion, fine art, race relations, engineers and engineering, and views of Islam.—Walter LaFeber, Cornell University

If only I could send two or three thousand choice subjects to a ‘re-education camp’ consisting entirely of a close reading of Adas’s Dominance by Design, a sweeping, powerful indictment of American technological hubris from the first European settlers to the Gulf Wars.—James C. Scott, Yale University

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Photograph of the book Fearless Women against red/white striped background

A Conversation with Elizabeth Cobbs about Fearless Women

For Women’s History Month, we are highlighting the work of Elizabeth Cobbs, whose new book Fearless Women shows how the movement for women’s rights has been deeply entwined with the history of the United States since its founding. Cobbs traces the lives of pathbreaking women who, inspired by American ideals, fought for the cause in their own ways