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Connections by James Burke

Connections (original 1978; edition 2007)

by James Burke

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1,0421312,163 (4.23)46
Authors:James Burke
Info:Simon & Schuster (2007), Edition: Reprint, Paperback, 320 pages
Collections:Additional Science Related Titles

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Connections by James Burke (1978)


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Amazon: "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." ( )
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  clifforddham | Oct 29, 2015 |
The series was excellent, and the companion book is no less so. By emphasizing the truly strange connections that led to various modern inventions, Burke makes it clear that the only way to halt progress in one field...would be to simply stop all progress. The opening and closing episodes (now chapters) may be eye-openers to many readers. ( )
  BruceCoulson | Dec 31, 2013 |
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. ( )
1 vote gpsman | Oct 21, 2011 |
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. ( )
  DirtPriest | Sep 10, 2010 |
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. ( )
  BrainFireBob | Feb 25, 2010 |
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In the gathering darkness of a cold winter evening on 9 November 1965, just before sixteen minutes and eleven seconds past five o'clock, a small metal cup inside a black rectangular box began slowly to revolve.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

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"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.… (more)

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