Dream Reaper
Univ of Chicago Pr / 1997-6出版
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To all outward appearances, Mark Underwood is an ordinary Kansas dirt farmer, but in fact he is a mechanical genius, a Thomas Edison of agriculture who has built a revolutionary new reaper that someday may change the way grain is harvested throughout the world. Mark and his cousin Ralph Lagergren, a salesman and marketing specialist, have pooled their disparate talents to bring Mark's reaper to market. Dream Reaper is the story of the Bi-Rotor combine - from paper nearly to production line - a suspenseful, ongoing thirteen-year saga in which the cousins encounter all the obstacles that any inventor faces: the complexities of raising capital and obtaining patents, the technical glitches, the obligatory secrecy, and the toll that any consuming obsession takes on one's private life. Craig Canine, who followed the cousins and their Bi-Rotor team closely for four years, gives us as well the historical context for the phenomenon of Whitey: the enormous changes that America has gone through as it has come of age on the farm and moved to the city. He recounts the reaper wars between Mark's nineteenth-century "ancestors, " the inventors Cyrus McCormick and Obed Hussey; the "tractor battles" between Henry Ford and International Harvester; and that legacy of the chemical warfare production of World War I, the modern pesticide. He shows us how these inventions transformed the Jeffersonian ideal of an agrarian society, and led to the creation of agribusiness and to a manufacturing industry dominated today by a few giant corporate players where once there were hundreds of small competitive firms an industry that, ironically, is dauntingly inhospitable to the maverick inventor.