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Circles : Fifty Roundtrips Through History Technology Science Culture (edition 2000)

by James Burke

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218153,416 (3.7)3
Member:HydrogenGuy
Title:Circles : Fifty Roundtrips Through History Technology Science Culture
Authors:James Burke
Info:Simon & Schuster (2000), Edition: 1st, Hardcover
Collections:Your library
Rating:
Tags:awesome, burke fodder, essays, history of science, tfioat

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Circles : Fifty Roundtrips Through History Technology Science Culture by James Burke

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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 |
"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
 
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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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:02:28 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

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

(summary from another edition)

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