James Burke Connections

ISBN 13: 9781559270663

Connections

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9781559270663: Connections
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Connections is a brilliant examination of the ideas, inventions, and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological achievements of today. The best-selling companion volume to the "unusually intelligent television series" (Christian Science Monitor) produced by the BBC and broadcast by PBS in autumn 1979, it was conceived in the tradition of the highly popular Civilisation and The Ascent of Man.

Connections masterfully combines popular science and detective work to retrace the steps that led to eight inventions that ushered in the technological age: the computer, the production line, telecommunications, the airplane, the atomic bomb, plastics, the guided rocket, and television.

James Burke untangles the pattern of interconnecting events, the accidents of time, circumstance, and place that gave rise to these inventions and to a host of related discoveries along the way. He explains, for instance, how the arrival of the cannon led eventually to the development of movies; how the popularity of underwear in the twelfth century led to the invention of the printing press; how the waterwheel evolved into the computer. He links these inventions with one another and with the stream of history, exploring them with dazzling insight.

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Review:

You can make all the plans you will, plot to make a fortune in the commodities market, speculate on developing trends: all will likely come to naught, for "however carefully you plan for the future, someone else's actions will inevitably modify the way your plans turn out." So writes the English scholar and documentary producer James Burke in his sparkling book Connections, a favorite of historically minded readers ever since its first publication in 1978. Taking a hint from Jacob Bronowski's Ascent of Man, Burke charts the course of technological innovation from ancient times to the present, but always with a subversive eye for things happening in spite of, and not because of, their inventors' intentions. Burke gives careful attention to the role of accident in human history. In his opening pages, for instance, he writes of the invention of uniform coinage, an invention that hinged on some unknown Anatolian prospector's discovering that a fleck of gold rubbed against a piece of schist--a "touchstone"--would leave a mark indicating its quality. Just so, we owe the invention of modern printing to Johann Gutenberg's training as a goldsmith, for his knowledge of the properties of metals enabled him to develop a press whose letterforms would not easily wear down. With Gutenberg's invention, Burke notes, came a massive revolution in the European economy, for, as he writes, "the easier it is to communicate, the faster change happens." Burke's book is a splendid and educational entertainment for our fast-changing time. --Gregory McNamee

About the Author:

James Burke, the BBC's chief reporter on the Apollo missions to the moon, was awarded the Royal Television Society silver medal in 1973 and the gold medal in 1974. Connections was over two years in the making, the research and filming taking the author to twnety-three countries. James Burke lives in London.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780743299558: Connections

Featured Edition

ISBN 10:  0743299558 ISBN 13:  9780743299558
Publisher: Simon & Schuster, 2007
Softcover

9780316116817: Connections

Little..., 1978
Hardcover

9780316116725: Connections

Little..., 1995
Softcover

9780333248270: Connections: Alternative History of Technology

Macmillan, 1978
Hardcover

9780316116855: Connections

Little..., 1980
Softcover

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