Stephen Johnson has written some amazing books, most particularly his informal "trilogy" including The Ghost Map, The Invention of Air, and most recently, Where Good Ideas Come From. Those three in particular are wonderful in their rich, detailed discussion of how knowledge and ideas advance, how they spring from complex causes in a particular time and place, and how they in turn change the very nature of not just our science and technology but our cultures and views of the world, and of ourselves. They are stupendous achievements.
Sadly, "Innovator's Cookbook" is just... another edited business book. Same old contributers (is Peter Drucker ever NOT in a business book?), same old (sometimes stale, though that may be unfair -- the whole thing just SEEMS stale to me) collection of pet theories and applications (God save us, at least sometimes, from "applications") to business. It frankly just looks like the kind of things publishers do constantly: take a genius writer who reliably churns out bestsellers, and so get him to agree to a quick little job of some kind that has his name on it, because of course they'll sell a million or so of them.
Not that the contributers are necessarily wrong or their pieces badly written, but when I got it out of the package and started to leaf through it, my heart sank. I have grown accustomed to amazing books from Johnson. This was just one more to toss in my old, dust-collecting boxes of trendy business books. Many of the authors have, in their own right, in their own major works, made tremendous contributions (e.g., Richard Florida and yeah, Drucker). But quick rehashes of Florida's stuff (e.g., "Rise of the Creative Class") in another source... isn't worth the eleven or whatever bucks I paid for it.
As I write this review we continue to hear the latest news on the "Occupy Wall Street" protests. In this new millenial environment, where hopefully there can be some creative and earthshaking solutions to our world's more and more urgent problems, contributions that seem to resemble the same old corporate game of sucking every dime out of a "creative" just strike me as sad. I love Stephen Johnson. I don't want him to sacrifice his (gulp) "brand" to become a commodity for some publishing house. This is a book any idiot could have edited. Please, Steven, come back.