In a cheerful, if hardly startling, review, Clarke traces humankind's transformation from a mosaic of isolated states into a true global community--through modern communications-technology that began with the laying of the first submarine cables and continues to future visions of "talkmen" (Walkman-like telephones). The story of the laying of the first submarine communications-cables--highly speculative ventures to which many men's fortunes, careers, and spirits were eagerly sacrificed--is one of the most profound of the 19th century, Clarke suggests; and he proves it by describing the nerve-racking succession of broken cables, entangled whales, and deadly silences that led to the miraculous, transformative intercontinental communications. Clarke maintains that the first messages to cross the oceans sparked a thirst for increased interaction that has yet to be slaked, and that led, almost inevitably, to such astonishing technical achievements as the telephone, long-distance service, TV, satellite communications, and fiber optics. Clarke's off-repeated hope is that universal communication will continue to transform what has become a global village into an interactive global family--easing ignorance through satellite-beamed, televised education in rural areas (as demonstrated in India); discouraging war through live, uncensored broadcasts from battle scenes (via such 24-hour coverage as CNN's) and through satellite surveillance; and, perhaps, even allowing for diversity within the global whole as small communities take what they need from dozens of orbiting moons while maintaining their independence. Little here is new--Clarke must be hoarse from repeating this message--but such a charming, pleasurable retelling of the societal unification myth is certainly worthwhile.