This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Circles : Fifty Roundtrips Through History…

Circles : Fifty Roundtrips Through History Technology Science Culture

by James Burke

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
265364,667 (3.74)3

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 3 mentions

Showing 3 of 3
After a while Burke is just too cute, and the sleights of hand become the whole story.

It's more like a collection of neat little stories than a real synthesis. Which is ok, but I wind up thinking that I'm merely being entertained instead of learning something. ( )
  pgiltner | Oct 30, 2017 |
James Burke is the king of connections; one of his earlier books even carries that title: Connections. This collection of essays is a lighter tome in some ways but similar in others, that is the connections in each essay. As the title suggests, each essay circles from some incident or anecdote through the connectedness of scientific and technological events to an end where you began. Each chapter performs this neat trick and the author's witty style makes for enjoyable reading. This is a great place to learn about technology if you have little background in the topic. For those with some knowledge and interest this may be lightweight fare, but it is good entertainment nonetheless. ( )
  jwhenderson | May 14, 2015 |
After producing the marvelous and engaging series "Connections", Burke seems to have gone to the well one to many times with "Circles". Burke trys to take his 'Connections' approach to identify complete circles in the connections of history. But rather than taking the connections where they lead, this self-imposed, artificial constraint leads to a combination of wild leaps and tidy little packages that just doesn't ring true. Burke comes out looking like he's just trying too hard, and a reader who's really paying attention will just refuse to follow.

Okay, there are some curious and interesting historical connections identified here, but it's just too hard to follow Burke's route just to glean a few gems.

Os. ( )
  Osbaldistone | May 27, 2007 |
Showing 3 of 3
"Burke returns to the theme of, and repeats anecdotes from, his previous books (The Pinball Effect; The Knowledge Web, LJ 6/15/99), showing by example the interconnectedness and role of serendipity in scientific discovery and progress."
added by wademlee | editLibrary Journal, Wade Lee
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
First words
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Publisher series
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 074320008X, Hardcover)

Unlike Perry Mason, James Burke does not try to assemble watertight (if convoluted) cases. His essays in the history of technology are more like random walks, paeans to serendipity. In The Knowledge Web Burke attempted to duplicate on paper the feeling of inter- and cross-linking trends that you find in history and on the World Wide Web. The essays in Circles are more artificially restricted, topological circles that wrap around. A typical trip goes from the Space Shuttle to Skylab to Werner von Braun to feedback to digestion to lab animals to the Humane Society to sea rescues to charting sea currents to Foucault to astronomical photography to the solar corona to Skylab. Whew!

"There are two reasons why I make such play of the unstructured nature of history, but then, in this book, give it a formal shape," Burke says. "One reason is that otherwise these essays would have mirrored the serendipity I described, just going from anywhere to anywhere.... Choosing to go round in circles, and to end each story where it begins, lets me illustrate perhaps the most intriguing aspect of serendipity at work, which shows itself in the way in which history generates the most extraordinary coincidences." He might have added that trying to guess how Burke proposes to connect all this up makes these tales a game for reader as well as writer, a most educational amusement. --Mary Ellen Curtin

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:05 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Takes us on 50 mesmerizing journeys through the history of technology in the form of essays.

Quick Links

Popular covers


Average: (3.74)
2 3
3 5
3.5 3
4 13
5 5

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 135,532,176 books! | Top bar: Always visible