“This is not a history of enthusiastic people doing interesting things,” Michael Osman archly warns readers of Modernism's Visible Hand (ix). He argues that in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, a new imperative to regulate exerted profound influence on the built environment of the United States, from middle-class households to large industrial plants. Technologies for keeping ambient room temperature constant were connected in surprising ways with efforts to manage factory labor, to mitigate economic fluctuations, and to study the natural world. These developments collectively shaped the American built environment far more, Osman asserts, than the creative efforts of canonical architects. His book is part of a...

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