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Connections (original 1978; edition 2007)
by James Burke
Connections by James Burke (1978)
References to this work on external resources.
Wikipedia in English (18)
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0316116815, Hardcover)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
(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:35 -0400)
"August 1863. Henry Ireland, a failed landowner, dies unexpectedly in a riding accident, leaving a highly strung young widow. Not far away lives Ireland's friend James Dixey, a celebrated naturalist who collects strange trophies - a stuffed bear, a pet mouse, and a wolf that he keeps caged in the grounds of his decaying house, lost in the fog on the edge of the fens.""The poachers, Dewar and Dunbar, with their cargo of pilfered eggs; Esther the observant kitchen maid, pining to be reunited with her vanished admirer; the ancient lawyer Mr. Crabbe, made careless by snobbery; John Carstairs, in search of his cousin, the elusive widow; an enigmatic debt-collector, busily plotting an audacious robbery; various lowlife henchmen; a beady-eyed country curate who sees more than he should; and Captain McTurk of Scotland Yard, patiently investigating the circumstances of Mr. Ireland's death and many other things besides - all are drawn into a net of intrigue with wide and sinister implications."--BOOK JACKET.
(summary from another edition)
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