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Brain Magnet


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Table of Contents

Preface: RTP Donuts
Introduction: From Textiles and Tobacco to the City of Ideas
1. Imagining the Triangle: The Unlikely Origins of the Creative City in the Cold War South
2. "Not a Second Ruhr": Building a Postindustrial Economy in the 1960s
3. Welcome to Parkwood: Newcomers Find Their Way in the Emerging Triangle
Interlude: Sweet Gums, Traffic Jams, and Cilantro
4. "The Greatest Concentration of PhDs in the Country": The Idea Economy Comes of Age in the Triangle
5. Cary, SAS, and the Search for the Good Life
Interlude: The Islamic School in Parkwood
6. "We Think a Lot": The Triangle in the Age of Gentrification
Epilogue: The Figure of the Knowledge Worker

About the Author

Alex Sayf Cummings is associate professor of history at Georgia State University. She is the author of Democracy of Sound: Music Piracy and the Remaking of American Copyright in the Twentieth Century (2013).


From tobacco and plow to computer and creative economy, this rich and eloquent history shows how a group of civic leaders put rural North Carolina at the forefront of the postindustrial revolution. In California, they say Silicon Valley is one of a kind; this marvelous book proves otherwise. -- Fred Turner, author of From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism
North Carolina's Research Triangle emerged a half century or so ago as one of a veritable handful of the original suburban high-tech "office parks." Though its allure has been challenged by the rise of urban tech and the return of innovation and high-tech industries to big cities, the Triangle persists. Brain Magnet provides a much-needed historical account of the rise and challenges of this model of high-tech development. -- Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community, and Everyday Life
Alex Cummings has written a brilliant history of the unlikely making of North Carolina's Research Triangle Park. The RTP has proven to be a grand success-but not for everyone. Cummings's site-specific account of the idea economy gives us much to ponder. -- David Farber, author of Crack: Rock Cocaine, Street Capitalism, and the Decade of Greed
Brain Magnet does essential work in connecting the historical processes of urban development to the social, spatial, and intellectual influences of universities. There are many more cases like RTP across the nation. Now scholars have a blueprint to better analyze them. -- Walter D. Greason, author of Suburban Erasure: How the Suburbs Ended the Civil Rights Movement in New Jersey
In an excellent treatment of the emergence of the postindustrial economy in the U.S. South, Cummings does a great job of chronicling the seeds of economic transformation using an underexplored case study. -- Bill Graves, coeditor of Charlotte, NC: The Global Evolution of a New South City
Smart and insightful...eminently readable. -- Peter Coclanis * Triangle Business Journal *
A stellar contribution to multiple historical subfields, Brain Magnet exemplifies the best of the History of Capitalism. Demystifying the rhetoric of boosters and underscoring the uneven outcomes of postindustrial capitalism, the book adds to the growing urban history literature on the high tech economy, * Metropole *
Demonstrates that the economic revolution that transformed the Triangle in the last half of the twentieth century was as much a national story as a local one. * North Carolina Historical Review *

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