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Connections [Kindle Edition]

James Burke
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Connections is a brilliant examination of the ideas, inventions, and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological achievements of today.

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.

Product Description


Explores the accidents of time, place, and circumstance that culminated in the century's technological achievements: the computer, the telephone, the production line, the airplane, the atomic bomb, the guided rocket, plastics, and television.

About the Author

James Burke is the author of several bestselling books, including Circles, American Connections, and The Knowledge Web. He is a monthly columnist at Scientific American and also serves as director, writer, and host of the television series Connections 3 on The Learning Channel. He is the founder of the James Burke Institute for Innovation in Education, whose flagship project, the Knowledge Web, an interactive website, was recently launched. He lives in London.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 42200 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (21 Feb. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00768D5BK
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
I saw James Burke's Connections Series when it came out years ago and it made a tremendous impact on me. I then read the book cover to cover!

It was a joy to watch Burke carefully take us (the viewers) with him on an amazing journey. He showed time and again how people throughout history used their critical thinking skills to create amazing human creations from seemingly unrelated discoveries and decisions that were made before them.

Burke showed that whatever we create today, we can't possibly imagine what type of morphing it will go through time and what incredible thing(S) it may become tomorrow.

Connections (the series and book) also allow us to peek into the mind of the inventor. For example, in his book Connections, Burke writes about Thomas Edison: "When Edison died he had over a thousand patents filed in his name, thanks to the work of the men in his laboratory. Each man was a specialist in his field, serving the needs of Edison's fertile imagination as well as his acute understanding of the seller's market in which he lived. Edison never developed an idea unless he knew in advance that it would be profitable."

Years after reading the book and watching the series I went to a James Burke lecture. He is as personable, passionate, interesting, animated and fun in person as he is on the series! At one point during the lecture I asked a question and he answered it and joked with me. When he signed my book later he asked if I was okay with his ribbing. I said I was pleased that he had such a great sense of humor and allowed me to be part of it!

The underlying theme in connections is how we as humans are connected to our species though our works and discoveries. We are all in this boat called life together!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting look at history 25 Jun. 1999
By A Customer
This book encourages the reader to consider how the creators of even the most significant of inventions can be lost in history without the right connections and a whole lot of luck. I couldn't help thinking about the loses - The pyramids of Egypt are technological marvels yet the individuals who developed the techniques that made the pyramids possible are lost in history along with the technology they created. How many school books tell about Nikola Tesla? - The fact is, some of our most famous historical figures are famous not just for their genius, but because they were in the right place at the right time. This book also invites the reader to explore how one little moment in history can profoundly affect the next. Just think - How might history have been different if Hitler had been accepted to the art school he applied to in his youth, instead of being rejected?
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Mr. Burke's clear and conversational style make this book a comfortable and quick read. If you are a fan of the TV series, this book will not disappoint. If you have never seen the series, this book makes you want to see the video version. Either way, the book stands on its own merits.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 21 Jan. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I came across connections, firstly from the TV Series. I found out about the book and ordered it. James burke is a master at narration, whether spoken or written.The book is exactly what I expected, with many illustrations and the familiar "tone" of J. Burke on every line. Its more than History. It's a "through the ages" detective story that connects up all the dots ( and discovers them) to bring the present state of things. Another thing i liked about Burke is his objectiveness to historical events. He dosen't beautify some pragmatic horrific events of the past, but sarcastically puts them in their proper perspective. History can be told one way of the other. Burke has found that thin line in the middle, while making the reading humorous and pleasant.Some of the Scientific articles are inprecise, but that is beyond the scope of this book. If you want to found out about Youngs double slit experiment in detail, you need a physics book. Connections tries to signify how some occurences and experiments led to other things. Excellent. I personally think that this should be tought in schools!!!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Burke's Connections 20 Sept. 2011
Discovered in a charity bookshop, this is the book linked to the late seventies television series, a series I thoroughly enjoyed. I had been luck at university to have a few great lecturers who thought and taught outside the book, linked the previously unlinked and viewed the world like Marshall McLuhan.

Burke is in the same vein, his writing style as easy as his television personality and delivery. Lavishly illustrated with colour and b/w plates, he looks at many of the inventions we take for granted or are featured in school and other history books and forces readers to consider them in a new light. How events in history occurred for tangential reasons is a fascinating approach.

This was a good find and another reason I will go to Oxfam again. Almost as cheap as Amazon and in a good cause!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This book reads just like a detective story. It is also a page turner. This book is a must read. James Burke knows how to entertain as well as teach his readers about eight different inventions throughout history.
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By bulldog
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
An updated edition of the book based on the highly successful BBC TV series. Although some aspects are now a little dated, the basic premise remains fascinating and offers genuine insight into world history. Connections is readable and accessible yet still offers a narrative that links technology and events across hundreds if not thousands of years of human history. Written by James Burke, who presented the original TV series on which it is based, and whose knowledge and enthusiasm for the subject is only matched by his insight into the growth in its importance to society. Whether a history or technology buff, this is a terrific read and worthwhile addition to your library.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great book
Published 2 months ago by Mr. Peter L. Dingle
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent + thank you
Published 2 months ago by khaled mohamed
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
excellent product
Published 2 months ago by MR J S COOPER
5.0 out of 5 stars The "Domino Effect" explained. A different view of History.
I never realized this book existed, though I watched the original series with great interest. If BBC-TV re-braodcast the Series, it would attract an even larger audiance than the... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Hubert de Southchurch
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulously interesting read.
A fabulously interesting read. For those who can't remember the TV series, this is a great substitute!
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun and Quirky Trip from Then to Now
History has the tendency of being seen as static and frozen when we view it from a a later time. What happened is what happened, and nothing else could have happened because,... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Michael Larsen
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant book, introduces wondering
First introduced to his works in my twenties, a must for any curious & questioning mind, IMHO. Radical, from the root, source.
Published 13 months ago by Cassandra
5.0 out of 5 stars A cleverly different way of looking at history
Anyone who remembers James Burke on British television will remember how engagingly and effortlessly he made even the most complex ideas seem easy to understand. Read more
Published on 29 July 2012 by Heliotrope
5.0 out of 5 stars A great story about history's connections ...
July 16, 1999
I first became aware of James Burke work through the Discovery/TLC channels and when I stumbled across his audio novel Connections I had to try it out. Read more
Published on 16 July 1999
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