How We Got To Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

How We Got To Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World

by Steven Johnson


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Did you drink a glass of water today? Did you turn on a light? Did you think about how miraculous either one of those things is when you did it? Of course not—but you should, and New York Times bestselling author Steven Johnson has. This adaptation of his adult book and popular PBS series explores the fascinating and interconnected stories of innovations—like clean drinking water and electricity—that changed the way people live.

Innovation starts with a problem whose solution sets in motion all kinds of unexpected discoveries. That's why you can draw a line from pendulums to punching the clock at a factory, from ice blocks to summer movie blockbusters, from clean water to computer chips.

In the lively storytelling style that has made him a popular, bestselling author, Steven Johnson looks at how accidental genius, brilliant mistakes, and unintended consequences shape the way we live in the modern world. Johnson's "long zoom" approach connects history, geography, politics, and scientific advances with the deep curiousity of inventors or quirky interests of tinkerers to show how innovation truly comes about.

His fascinating account is organized into six topics: glass, cold, sound, clean, time, light. Johnson's fresh exploration of these simple, single-syllable word concepts creates an endlessly absorbing story that moves from lightning strikes in the prehistoric desert to the herculean effort to literally raise up the city of Chicago to laser labs straight out of a sci-fi movie.

In other words, it's the story of how we got to now!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425287781
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 10/16/2018
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 467,379
Product dimensions: 7.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range: 10 Years

About the Author

Steven Johnson is the bestselling author of eleven books, including Where Good Ideas Come From, Wonderland, and The Ghost Map. He's the host and co-creator of the Emmy-winning PBS/BBC series How We Got To Now, and the host of the podcast American Innovations. He lives in Brooklyn and Marin County, California with his wife and three sons.

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How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
one_kat More than 1 year ago
So far I am enjoying the book....of course this would not be the case if it hadn't been for BN's Nook Books website. Everything was uncomplicated....perfect for the not so avid readers such as myself! It actually makes me want to finish my book/s just to justify ordering more! (-:
VirginiaYank More than 1 year ago
Reminds me of an old TV series called "Connections" that traced the link between certain discoveries to todays technological developments. This book has been adapted into a PBS series on TV. If you like history AND technology this is a MUST read book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Breezy, enjoyable, with curious facts. A bit of a light overview, but interesting
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
leopardiNJ More than 1 year ago
A corollary to the modern perception that every event, however minor, has an impact, however minor, on every other event in space and future time, is that there must be some hierarchy of influence of any given event upon another.  That hierarchy most probably follows some type of "normal" or sigmoidal distribution; i.e., if we could quantify the impact of all events on any given event, then there would be a very large number of events with little impact and very few events that have significant or notable impact.  The task on the abundant side of the curve is impossible.  The task on the scarce side of the curve has become the subject of its own genre of very readable and very interesting "connection" books.  How one selects among that rarified few of important influences and decide which are truly critical is what distinguishes one story from another. In How We Got to Now, Steven Johnson explores six historical themes or threads - Glass, Cold, Sound, Clean, Time and Light - which he attempts to elevate to positions of prominence in explaining the evolution of today's culture and technology.  This too little book complements the television series of the same name. There is not much that is new here - at least portions of each of Johnson's stories have appeared more than once elsewhere.  What does distinguish this book from others is the author's attempt to fathom the meaning behind the broad connections of a particular innovation with all others.  Unfortunately the author's exploration of this connections is simply too fleeting to provide much insight.  In addition, the author's connections are sometimes strained.  For example, right from the start on the subject of glass, Johnson alludes to the early discovery of Libyan desert glass.  But that discovery did not lead to the glass makers of Rome or Venice.  The manufacture of glass arose from observations of the effects of very hot fire on ash and sand - the Egyptians who discovered Libyan glass had no way of knowing that it formed as a result of an extraterrestrial, high temperature impact. The book has a limited set of Notes which, at least in the eBook version reviewed here, are in a format that is not particularly scholarly - references are only made at the end of the book back to pages within the text.  The Bibliography is adequate with the caveat that web references are more often than not dated by the time a book is published.  A good Index and a nice set of credited illustrations complete this text. Richard R. Pardi Environmental Science William Paterson University
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Does this mention who invented soap the romans had baths and plumbing but no soap what about candles and horseshoes without underware would we have had paper.? Why doesnt this list subjects so dont waste time