Wiring the World: The Social and Cultural Creation of Global Telegraph Networks

The laying of the transatlantic cable in the 1850s sparked a revolution in communication. A message could travel from Newfoundland to Ireland in minutes, collapsing the space among continents, cultures, and nations. An eclectic group of engineers, entrepreneurs, politicians, and media visionaries then developed this technology into a telecommunications system that remade civilization. The desire to wire the world, though, was not shared by all.

This unusual history focuses not only on those who advanced cable communications, but also on those who harbored alternative ideas. These battles manifested in the cable wars, discourses on morality and violence, a rivalry between science and business, and the rise of strategic nationalism. They might seem peripheral, but such struggles determined the growth of cable technology, which in turn influenced world history. Filled with fascinating characters and new insight into defining events, this book recognizes globalization’s diverse paths and close ties to business and politics.