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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.

How did the popularity of underwear in the twelfth century lead to the invention of the printing press? How did the waterwheel evolve into the computer? How did the arrival of the cannon lead eventually to the development of movies?

In this highly acclaimed and bestselling book, James Burke brilliantly examines the ideas, inventions, and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological advances of today. With dazzling insight, he untangles the pattern of interconnecting events: the accidents of time, circumstance, and place that gave rise to the major inventions of the world.

Says Burke, "My purpose is to acquaint the reader with some of the forces that have caused change in the past, looking in particular at eight innovations—the computer, the production line, telecommunications, the airplane, the atomic bomb, plastics, the guided rocket, and television—which may be most influential in structuring our own futures....Each one of these is part of a family of similar devices, and is the result of a sequence of closely connected events extending from the ancient world until the present day. Each has enormous potential for humankind's benefit—or destruction."

Based on a popular TV documentary series, Connections is a fascinating scientific detective story of the inventions that changed history—and the surprising links that connect them.
Published: Simon & Schuster on
ISBN: 9781451685060
List price: $18.99
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What a wonderful book, full of wonder! I've re-read Connections again and am as much filled with wonder about the fellow who recognizes the truth in the non-standard, non-linear nature of the progression of the development of human history and technology as I was the first time quite a few years ago.No one who reads Burke's book will make the mistake of assuming straight-line development of technology or changes in human condition, nor will they give credence to those talking-head-experts who, with great airs of superiority predict the future based on simplistic evolutions of events.In case the reader doesn't quite get it, he wraps up his thesis wonderfully in the last chapter.Thank you Mr. Burke for this and your other publications. They are wonderfully eye-opening for any who read with their eyes open.more
Here's a book that wasn't as exciting as it could have been. Not because it isn't interesting and original, because it is, but because I was so often reminded of the TV show that it accompanies that I knew what was coming next. Mind you, I haven't watched a single episode of Connections in probably 15 years, but that familiarity took away the sense of wonder at Mr. Burke's chains of events. A quick example begins with the Church's demand for a reliable mechanical clock, through the myriad events involved in making better and more accurate scientific tools to the standardization of the assembly line. This might not be the book for you if a half page with a full page drawing of how a refrigerator works, and why it is more efficient with ammonia than water as a cooling fluid, then maybe this isn't the book for you. The TV series is really entertaining and educational and should be found at many libraries around, it was a big BBC/PBS crossover thing years ago. You can get the same information easier and in hour sized bites of TV. The author also argues that as science has progressed, the rate of change has become too much for the average person to keep up with. This makes sense, a friend of mine wrote a college sociology paper on his theory that constant change is the new norm. He had noticed that younger people went in to depression and withdrawal states when they didn't have constant change in their life. The moment after they bought a new phone, for example, they were coveting the newer, sleeker model and felt slighted by the fact that they were already obsolete. Long story.I'm moving on to The Day the Universe Changed by the same dude. A similar vein, this one is about how the world-view of cultures is radically altered by key scientific discoveries of the times. Also I have found that wikipedia has a selection of starred articles that are judged to be of unusually high quality, marked here. Reading in small doses is handy when babysitting all day and I can learn something new, and at the same time give my nephew some alone time to play as he sees fit without being hovered over. Now I can leave my book downstairs and not worry about Brayden spilling milk on it or ripping a page. He is pretty gentle with his books, but sometimes he ham-fists the page turning when he gets excited. I would also rather he didn't hide my bookmark.more
Highly recommended to anyone interested in History of Science, Burke's companion to his Connections television series delivers a step-by-step track through history, and how the developments caused by inventors and innovators led to surprising and incidental discoveries that paved the way for the modern world.more
I never saw the PBS show, though I had heard plenty about it, and this book has been on my mental To Do list for quite a long time. A chance encounter in a second-hand bookstore was fortunate. If you're not familiar with it, Burke's book is about the inter-connectedness of technical and social progress...how one thing invariably begets another, sometimes in spite of the goals of those involved.While you may or may not agree with his premise that individual genius is less important in technical progress than might be expected, and perhaps question some jumps he makes, I think you cannot help but be fascinated by this charting of history, not in terms of dates and kings, but in terms of innovation. It is, perhaps, hard to imagine a history book being a page-turner, but that is exactly what this is.more
Very enjoyable romp through the history of human technological inventions. It shows the connections between historical and modern inventions, and human ingenuity as a continuum stretching over millenia. Excellent writing and illustrations. A bit outdated on the computer stuff (it was written in the 70's), but it can nevertheless be greatly enjoyed.more
Where do ideas come from? What circuitous routes does the inspiration of the genius take? This is the story that James Burke so eloquently portrays in this compendium of history of science, ideas and technology. For the curious mind it is a wonderful story.more
This book is neat. Basicallly it will take a randome historical event or minimal action and trace it to a modern day miracle.more
A fascinating book, a companion to the PBS series of the same name. Using a detective approach, Burke traces the surprising "connections" found in the development of eight inventions which are indices of the technological age: television, the airplane, telecommunications, the A-bomb, plastics, the assembly line, guided rocket systems and the computer. Coincidence, accidental discoveries, related developments and the influence of the concurrent culture are all presented.Who would have guessed that the popularity of underwear in the twelfth century would lead to the development of the printing press? Or that the development of the stirrup was intertwined with the invention of the telephone? Or that the arrival of the cannon was involved in the process leading to movies? Who knew how the developing of the chimney gave rise to the invention of the airplane.The book is illustrated with museum artifacts, newsphotos, and scientific drawings. Just perusing them would give you a tour of history and pique your interest in the meat of the intellectual meal the book presents.more
Presents a very interesting perspective on the inter-relatedness of historical events.more
Read all 10 reviews

Reviews

What a wonderful book, full of wonder! I've re-read Connections again and am as much filled with wonder about the fellow who recognizes the truth in the non-standard, non-linear nature of the progression of the development of human history and technology as I was the first time quite a few years ago.No one who reads Burke's book will make the mistake of assuming straight-line development of technology or changes in human condition, nor will they give credence to those talking-head-experts who, with great airs of superiority predict the future based on simplistic evolutions of events.In case the reader doesn't quite get it, he wraps up his thesis wonderfully in the last chapter.Thank you Mr. Burke for this and your other publications. They are wonderfully eye-opening for any who read with their eyes open.more
Here's a book that wasn't as exciting as it could have been. Not because it isn't interesting and original, because it is, but because I was so often reminded of the TV show that it accompanies that I knew what was coming next. Mind you, I haven't watched a single episode of Connections in probably 15 years, but that familiarity took away the sense of wonder at Mr. Burke's chains of events. A quick example begins with the Church's demand for a reliable mechanical clock, through the myriad events involved in making better and more accurate scientific tools to the standardization of the assembly line. This might not be the book for you if a half page with a full page drawing of how a refrigerator works, and why it is more efficient with ammonia than water as a cooling fluid, then maybe this isn't the book for you. The TV series is really entertaining and educational and should be found at many libraries around, it was a big BBC/PBS crossover thing years ago. You can get the same information easier and in hour sized bites of TV. The author also argues that as science has progressed, the rate of change has become too much for the average person to keep up with. This makes sense, a friend of mine wrote a college sociology paper on his theory that constant change is the new norm. He had noticed that younger people went in to depression and withdrawal states when they didn't have constant change in their life. The moment after they bought a new phone, for example, they were coveting the newer, sleeker model and felt slighted by the fact that they were already obsolete. Long story.I'm moving on to The Day the Universe Changed by the same dude. A similar vein, this one is about how the world-view of cultures is radically altered by key scientific discoveries of the times. Also I have found that wikipedia has a selection of starred articles that are judged to be of unusually high quality, marked here. Reading in small doses is handy when babysitting all day and I can learn something new, and at the same time give my nephew some alone time to play as he sees fit without being hovered over. Now I can leave my book downstairs and not worry about Brayden spilling milk on it or ripping a page. He is pretty gentle with his books, but sometimes he ham-fists the page turning when he gets excited. I would also rather he didn't hide my bookmark.more
Highly recommended to anyone interested in History of Science, Burke's companion to his Connections television series delivers a step-by-step track through history, and how the developments caused by inventors and innovators led to surprising and incidental discoveries that paved the way for the modern world.more
I never saw the PBS show, though I had heard plenty about it, and this book has been on my mental To Do list for quite a long time. A chance encounter in a second-hand bookstore was fortunate. If you're not familiar with it, Burke's book is about the inter-connectedness of technical and social progress...how one thing invariably begets another, sometimes in spite of the goals of those involved.While you may or may not agree with his premise that individual genius is less important in technical progress than might be expected, and perhaps question some jumps he makes, I think you cannot help but be fascinated by this charting of history, not in terms of dates and kings, but in terms of innovation. It is, perhaps, hard to imagine a history book being a page-turner, but that is exactly what this is.more
Very enjoyable romp through the history of human technological inventions. It shows the connections between historical and modern inventions, and human ingenuity as a continuum stretching over millenia. Excellent writing and illustrations. A bit outdated on the computer stuff (it was written in the 70's), but it can nevertheless be greatly enjoyed.more
Where do ideas come from? What circuitous routes does the inspiration of the genius take? This is the story that James Burke so eloquently portrays in this compendium of history of science, ideas and technology. For the curious mind it is a wonderful story.more
This book is neat. Basicallly it will take a randome historical event or minimal action and trace it to a modern day miracle.more
A fascinating book, a companion to the PBS series of the same name. Using a detective approach, Burke traces the surprising "connections" found in the development of eight inventions which are indices of the technological age: television, the airplane, telecommunications, the A-bomb, plastics, the assembly line, guided rocket systems and the computer. Coincidence, accidental discoveries, related developments and the influence of the concurrent culture are all presented.Who would have guessed that the popularity of underwear in the twelfth century would lead to the development of the printing press? Or that the development of the stirrup was intertwined with the invention of the telephone? Or that the arrival of the cannon was involved in the process leading to movies? Who knew how the developing of the chimney gave rise to the invention of the airplane.The book is illustrated with museum artifacts, newsphotos, and scientific drawings. Just perusing them would give you a tour of history and pique your interest in the meat of the intellectual meal the book presents.more
Presents a very interesting perspective on the inter-relatedness of historical events.more
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