Wonderland

Steven Johnson

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Pan

9781509862559
320
Synopsis

'The book is a house of wonders' The New York Times

'Steven Johnson is the Darwin of technology' Walter Issacson, author of Steve Jobs

What connects Paleolithic bone flutes to the invention of computer software? Or the Murex sea snail to the death of the great American city? How does the bag of crisps you hold in your hand help tell the story of humanity itself?

In his brilliant new work on the history of innovation, international bestseller Steven Johnson argues that the pursuit of novelty and wonder has always been a powerful driver of world-shaping technological change. He finds that that throughout history, the cutting edge of innovation lies wherever people are working the hardest to keep themselves and others amused.

Johnson's storytelling is just as delightful as the inventions he describes, full of surprising stops along the journey from simple concepts to complex modern systems. He introduces us to the colourful innovators of leisure: the explorers, proprietors, showmen, and artists who changed the trajectory of history with their luxurious wares, exotic meals, taverns, gambling tables, and magic shows.

Johnson compellingly argues that observers of technological and social trends should be looking for clues in novel amusements. You'll find the future wherever people are having the most fun.

In the media
Wondrous...he has that knack of making the familiar seem gloriously fresh and his ideas squirm into your brain...the writing sings throughout...it's a joy and every twist is worth fully digesting

Hugo Rifkind The Times

Seductively erudite...a speed-read history of the serendipitous and the entertaining

The Observer

There is a fabulous amount here to be surprised by and interested in. It’s a book about delight that is itself delightful

The Spectator

It’s vintage Johnson, a fascinating and surprising guide to the history of innovation

Tim Harford