Landes, David S(aul) 1924-

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LANDES, David S(aul) 1924-

PERSONAL: Born April 29, 1924, in New York, NY; son of Harry and Sylvia (Silberman) Landes; married Sonia Tarnopol (an educator), March 19, 1944; children: Jane Landes Foster, Richard Allen, Alison Landes Fiekowsky. Education: City College (now of the City University of New York), A.B., 1942; Harvard University, A.M., 1943, Ph.D., 1953. Religion: Jewish. Hobbies and other interests: Playing squash.

ADDRESSES: Agent—Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency, 1155 Camino del Mar, Del Mar, CA 92104-2605.

CAREER: Columbia University, New York, NY, assistant professor, 1952-55, associate professor of economics, 1955-58; University of California— Berkeley, professor of history and economics, 1958-64; Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, professor of history, 1964-72, Leroy B. Williams Professor of History and Political Science, 1972-75, Robert Walton Goelet Professor of French History, 1975-80, Coolidge Professor of History and professor of economics, beginning 1980, now professor emeritus, director of Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 1966-68. Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Palo Alto, CA, fellow, 1957-58; Churchill College, Cambridge, fellow, 1966-69. Cambridge University, Ellen McArthur Lecturer, 1964; University of Paris, associate professor at Sorbonne, 1972-73; visiting professor, University of Zurich, 1978, Eidgenössische Hochschule, Zurich, 1978, and École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris, 1982. National Academy of Sciences, member, also chair of National Academy of Sciences/Social Science Research Council history panel, 1966-70; Council for Research on Economic History, chair, 1963-66. Military service: U.S. Army, Signal Corps, 1943-46; became first lieutenant.

MEMBER: American Academy of Arts and Sciences (fellow), American Historical Association, American Philosophical Society (fellow), Economic History Association (president, 1976-77; member of board of trustees), Society for French Historical Studies, British Academy (fellow), Royal Historical Society, Economic History Society (England), Societe d'Histoire Moderne, Gesellschaft für Sozial-und Wirtschaftgeschichte, Koninklijke Academie van Belgie (Belgium), Accadémia dei Lincei (Rome, Italy).

AWARDS, HONORS: D.H.C., University of Lille, 1973, University of Ancona, 1990, Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule, 1993, and Bard College, 1999; honorary doctorates from University of Geneva, 1990, and University of Neuchatel, 1991; Social Science Research Council grant for France, 1960-61; Rockefeller Foundation fellow, 1960-61; National Book Critics Circle Award nomination, 1983, for Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of the Modern World; first laureate, Prix Européen du Livre d'Economie, 2000, for The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor; named honorary professor, Ecole des Hautes Etudes Commerciales, 2000.


Bankers and Pashas: International Finance and Economic Imperialism in Egypt, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1958.

(Editor) The Rise of Capitalism, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1966.

The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1969.

(Editor, with Charles Tilly) History As Social Science, Prentice-Hall (Englewood Cliffs, NJ), 1971.

(Coauthor) Estudios sobre al naciemiento y desarrollo del capitalismo, Spanish translation from the English by Jorge Fabra Utray, Ayuso, 2nd edition, 1972.

(Editor) Western Europe: The Trials of Partnership, Lexington Books (Lexington, MA), 1977.

Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of the Modern World, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1983.

(Editor, with Patrice Higonnet and Henry Rosovsky) Favorites of Fortune: Technology, Growth, and Economic Development since the Industrial Revolution, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1991.

La Favola del cavallo morto; ovvero, La Rivoluzione industriale revisitate, Donzelli Editore (Rome, Italy), 1994.

The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor, W. W. Norton (New York, NY), 1998.

Also author of A che servono i padroni: Le alternative storiche dell'industrializzazione, Bollati Boringhieri (Turin, Italy). Contributor to books, including Culture Matters: How Values Shape Human Progress, edited by Lawrence E. Harrison and Samuel P. Huntington, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2000; and The British Industrial Revolution: An Economic Perspective, 2nd edition, edited by Joel Mokyr, Westview (Boulder, CO). Contributor to history journals. Associate editor, Journal of Economic History, 1954-60.

WORK IN PROGRESS: Dynasties: The Advantages and Disadvantages of Close Familiarity in Business.

SIDELIGHTS: David S. Landes's The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present is "an indispensable reference guide … [which] offers a great deal more … [than] its deft synthesis of monographic and learned journal material, its resumes of the technical aspects of invention and industrial organization, and its marshaling of intelligently selected statistical data," wrote Theodore Roszak in the Nation. Landes, a former professor of economics and history at Harvard University, discusses in his book "a wide range of most important interpretive emphases on and insights into modern economic thought and scholarship," according to Roszak, while "the more technical features of industrialization are treated with admirable breadth … and the context of social and political history is never lost from sight." Roszak concluded that The Unbound Prometheus "fully deserves the place it is bound to hold for the next generation or more as a standard comparative study of industrial development in [Western Europe]."

Landes's later book, Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of the Modern World, reflects a similar comprehensiveness as the author examines the evolution of clocks and clock-making from a cultural, technological, and economic perspective, while discussing the impact that the discipline of timekeeping has had on civilization over the centuries. As Landes traces the cultural origins, technological advancements, and economic development of the clock, the focus of the book, noted E. J. Hobsbawm in the New York Review of Books, emerges as "the peculiar and revolutionary sense of time [the clock] made possible, established, and reflected [which] proved to be essential to modern capitalism, the first and still dominant form of industrial society." "The main subject," Hobsbawm continued, "… is the revolution in the world's capacity to produce … [and] the clock happens to be a superb way into this subject and its problems." In his introduction to the book, Landes describes Revolution in Time as "a first attempt at a general history of time measurement and its contribution, for better or worse, to what we call modern civilization."

In the first section of the book, which, as Philip Morrison pointed out in Scientific American, offers the author's discussion "of the enigmatic origins of the clock … in late medieval Europe," Landes suggests a connection between timekeeping, Christianity, and commerce in the West. Norman Stone in the London Times explained that "the regularity of time had already been much more evident in the medieval West than elsewhere, if only because monastic communities had to perform their prayers punctually … [and] as in other matters in the Middle Ages, there was a mysterious relationship of religion and commerce, which did not occur in other parts of the world." "The West," observed David Cannadine in the London Review of Books, "needed pervasive, public time: with the clock as with everything else, necessity was the mother of invention." As Landes unravels the beginnings of man's interest in regulating time, "this emerging punctuality," as Robert Coles in the New Yorker called it, "gets … an analysis worthy of its complex sources … in a splendidly erudite yet accessible series of chapters."

After discussing the cultural origins of regulating time and the emergence of the first timekeeping devices, Landes directs his attention to the scientific and technological history of clocks. Morrison describes this account as "the story of the 500 years of evolution from the heavy turret clocks to the chronometer and watches cheap and fine." The most notable developments in this history, as Coles relates, were "the emergence of the spring-driven clock (in the beginning of the fifteenth century) and the watch (toward the end of the century) [which] marked the onset of a new individualism." Cannadine found that "Landes's account of coiled springs, pendulums, minute and second hands, and jewelled bearings makes fascinating reading, and is peppered with a rich array of crackpot ideas, unscrupulous plagiarists, disputes about priority, unhonoured genius and the like." And, added the reviewer, the book demonstrates its author's "ability to write of technology, machinery and gadgetry with authority, enthusiasm and finesse." "[Revolution in Time] is a notable addition to the literature of science and technology," wrote Tracy Kidder in the New York Times Book Review.

In the final and largest section of the book, Landes traces the economic history of clocks and the clock industry, covering a time period of seven hundred years, from the invention of the clock to the modern "quartz revolution." Morrison called this "a major contribution to economic history for the general reader, graceful and full of wit, fresh and scrupulously documented." In Hobsbawm's opinion, the clock provides a model for studying economic development; he wrote, "the clock gave rise to an industry whose history encapsulates that of modern industrial development as a whole, including its shifts from one country to another." "Clocks are thus instruments for measuring not only time but history," Hobsbawm concluded. In following these shifts, "Landes has done a superb job in describing the development of the industry in Britain, France, the United States, Switzerland, and Japan," wrote John Kenneth Galbraith in the New Republic.

Cannadine found modern parallels to the stages of the clock industry presented by Landes, noting that the "account of British decline [in the clock industry] has a dismal and contemporary ring to it: high costs, conservative styling, obsolescent techniques, entrepreneurial complacency and resistance by labour to innovation." These developments foreshadow "The Quartz Revolution," the book's closing in which, according to Derek Howse in the Washington Post, "we see the beginnings of the decline of the mechanical timekeeper." While Cannadine detected a "sombre note" in "the demise of the clock as the supreme means of measuring time," there is also a sense of "success" at the end of the book "which finishes with the triumph of time: public and uniform, universal and irresistible."

A number of critics were impressed with Landes's achievements in Revolution in Time. Galbraith praised the book for its "meticulous" accounting of the "mechanical achievement and economic development" of the clock industry, and added that the book "is at its most fascinating when it takes leave of these matters to explore the whole range of religious, social, cultural, commercial, and industrial questions that derive from, or are associated with, the measurement of time." Hobsbawm called this study an "important contribution to the history of the rise and fortunes of capitalism, as well as to the comparative dynamics of societies." "Indeed," he continued, "anyone interested in the development, conflicts, and interactions of classes— nobility, bourgeoisie, craftsmen, proletariat—in European history might do well to start here." Howse believed that Revolution in Time will be of value to a wide audience, noting that "for the layman, the author has a particular talent for making technical matters seem simple [and] for the scholar, the references are impeccable and give evidence of deep study of the subject." "[Landes] has treated complex and difficult matters in a style that any educated person can appreciate, without the slightest hint of esotericism, professional display, or condescension," commented Hobsbawm. "Without a doubt," Howse concluded, "this book will become a standard work on the history of timekeeping—and it's fun to read."



London Review of Books, July 19, 1984, David Cannadine, review of Revolution in Time: Clocks and the Making of the Modern World.

Nation, November 24, 1969, Theodore Roszak, review of The Unbound Prometheus: Technological Change and Industrial Development in Western Europe from 1750 to the Present.

New Republic, October 10, 1983, John Kenneth Galbraith, review of Revolution in Time.

Newsweek, October 31, 1983.

New Yorker, September 24, 1984, Robert Coles, review of Revolution in Time.

New York Review of Books, December 8, 1983, E. J. Hobsbawm, review of Revolution in Time.

New York Times Book Review, October 23, 1983, Tracy Kidder, review of Revolution in Time.

Scientific American, April, 1984, Philip Morrison, review of Revolution in Time.

Times (London, England), August 9, 1984, Norman Stone, review of Revolution in Time.

Times Literary Supplement, April 6, 1984.

Washington Post, December 12, 1983, Derek Howse, review of Revolution in Time.

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Landes, David S(aul) 1924-

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