HOW WE GOT TO NOW by Steven Johnson

HOW WE GOT TO NOW

Six Innovations That Made the Modern World
Age Range: 11 - 14
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KIRKUS REVIEW

Beginning with ideas that emerged thousands of years ago, Johnson tracks a series of innovations that led world culture to where it is now.

In an adaption for younger readers of his adult work of the same name (2014), he tracks six pathways arranged along the following themes (which also serve as chapter titles): glass, cold, sound, clean, time, and light. The chapter on glass begins with the discovery of natural glass in the Libyan desert about 10,000 years ago and tracks it through use as jewelry, the creation of windowpanes, the development of glass that was clear, the creation of eyeglasses (necessary as books became more common), the development of other types of lenses and the scientific advances they inspired, and finally to fiber-optic cables in the digital age and creation of a massive telescope in Hawaii. Each engaging chapter remains fully grounded in the fundamental concept that advances inspire further developments, serving to present history in a nutshell that is still shown as a grand sweep of progress. A single minor gripe is that in the chapter on time, a detail on early photography is off by a few years. Excellent backmatter rounds out a balanced and thoroughly engaging presentation.

Altogether, a fine exploration of technologies emerging over the eons and their remarkable interconnectedness. (Nonfiction. 11-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 16th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-425-28778-1
Page count: 160pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15th, 2018




Kirkus Interview
Steven Johnson
October 6, 2014

In How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World, Steven Johnson explores the history of innovation over centuries, tracing facets of modern life (refrigeration, clocks, and eyeglass lenses, to name a few) from their creation by hobbyists, amateurs, and entrepreneurs to their unintended historical consequences. Filled with surprising stories of accidental genius and brilliant mistakes—from the French publisher who invented the phonograph before Edison but forgot to include playback, to the Hollywood movie star who helped invent the technology behind Wi-Fi and Bluetooth—How We Got to Now investigates the secret history behind the everyday objects of contemporary life. View video >

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