We like to have a clear picture of who invented what - the Wright brothers for the aeroplane, Edison for the light bulb and so on. In How invention begins
John H Lienhard shows that this picture is often a myth. He looks at inventions such as the steam engine and the printing press, and shows how they proceeded through various stages, with the accepted inventor playing an important, but not overwhelming part. Lienhard also looks at 'the invention of invention' - how sometime around 1840 inventions stopped being a one-off thing, and became an accepted part of industry. If you're interested in how our modern world came about then you should give this book a try.
The history of technology can be a difficult subject with which to maintain the readers interest, but I felt that Lienhard managed to overcome this difficulty with his critical approach. I felt some of part II did lapse into jsut being a history of the development of the steam engine, but overall I found the book to be interesting and informative.
The last part of the book looks at the growth of education in the modern world - how the coming of cheaper books made knowledge much more widely available, and how this fitted into social movements of the last two centuries.