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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Stars for this Series and Book...5 stars just isn't enough!
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...
Published on 31 July 2008 by C. Clayton

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17 of 43 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars An Ode to Obscurity and Mediocrity
The thesis of this book and the clue to the spirit that motivated it can be found on page 13 "...it will become clear that history is not, as we are so often led to believe, a matter of great men and lonely geniuses pointing the way to the future... and this book may help to show that given average intelligence and the information available to the innovators of...
Published on 30 Mar 1999


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 Stars for this Series and Book...5 stars just isn't enough!, 31 July 2008
This review is from: Connections (Paperback)
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!

6 Stars for this Series and Book...5 stars just isn't enough!

The Re-Discovery of Common Sense: A Guide To: The Lost Art of Critical Thinking
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting look at history, 25 Jun 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Connections (Paperback)
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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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superior book for those who relish the wonders of history., 20 Feb 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Connections (Paperback)
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Connections is the best history book I have ever read., 17 Feb 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: Connections (Paperback)
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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5.0 out of 5 stars The "Law of Unintended Consequences" writ large., 24 May 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Connections (Paperback)
This book is an engaging, often humorous in the British style, account of the serendipitous results of inventions and discoveries. It serves to illustrate the permanence of the "Law of Unintended Consequences" inasmuch as inventions or discoveries in one era or location quite often lead to totally unrelated or undreamed-of uses in another. I would give the book a "10" except for the bizarre discussion, at the end of the book, of the problems of "planned obsolescence" and "energy crisis" rhetoric. Otherwise, you cannot go wrong giving this book to any thinking friend or relative.
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5.0 out of 5 stars I have read it three times and continue to go back to it., 7 Nov 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Connections (Paperback)
As a high school science teacher I love having Burke's perspective of how one idea leads to another in often a very indirect line. It also contains so many scrumptious tidbits about the inventors that are fun to bring up in class to catch the students attention and imagination. Anyone who really is interested in the history of science and science teaching should read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must on the 'how do people invent' list., 23 April 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Connections (Paperback)
I first heard him speak on this topic before I read the book. He was warm, funny, engaging and enlightening. I found the book to be the same. I'd like to see the videos at some point. As an engineer / manager involved in constant innovation, perhaps I'm biased here, but I truly think this is a very good book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Fun and Quirky Trip from Then to Now, 18 Mar 2014
By 
Michael Larsen (San Francisco, CA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Connections (Kindle Edition)
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, again, at that point, it is set in stone. Once upon a time, however, history could have gone any number of ways, and much of the time, it’s the act of change and transition that help drive history through various eras.

James Burke is one of my favorite historical authors, and I am a big fan of his ideas behind “Connected thought and events”, which makes the case that history is not a series of isolated events, but that events and discoveries coming from previous generations (an even eras) can give rise to new ideas and modes of thinking. In other words, change doesn’t happen in a vacuum, or in the mind of a single solitary genius. Instead it’s the actions and follow-on achievements by a variety of people throughout history that make certain changes in our world possible (from the weaving of silk to the personal computer, or the stirrup to the atomic bomb).

“Connections" is the companion book to the classic BBC series first filmed in the late 70s, with additional series being created up into the 1990s. If you haven’t already seen the Connections series of programs, please do, they are highly entertaining and engaging. The original print edition of the book had been out of print for some time, but I was overjoyed to discover that there is a paperback version as well as a Kindle edition of this book. The kindle version is the one I am basing the review on.

The subtitle of the book and series is "an Alternative View of Change”. rather than serendipitous forces coming together and “eureka” moments of discovery happening, Burke makes the case that, just as today, invention happens often as a market force determines the benefit and necessity of that invention, with adoption and use stemming from the both the practical and cultural needs of the community. from there, refinements and other markets often determine how ideas from one area can impact development of other areas. Disparate examples like finance, accounting, cartography, metallurgy, mechanics, water power and automation are not separate disciplines, but rely heavily on each other and the inter-connectedness of these disciplines over time.

The book starts with an explanation of the Northeastern Blackout of 1965, as a away to draw attention to the fact that we live in a remarkably interdependent world today. We are not only the beneficiaries of technologies gifts, but in many ways, we are also at the mercy of them. Technology is wonderful, until it breaks down. At that point, many of the systems that we rely heavily on, when they stop working, can make our lives not just sub-optimal, but dangerous.

Connections uses examples stretching all the way back to Roman Times and the ensuing “Dark Ages”. Burke contends that they were never “really dark”, and makes the case of communication being enabled through Bishop to Bishop Post to show that many of the institutions defined in Roman times continued on unabated. Life did became much more local when the over-seeing and overarching power of a huge government state had ended. The pace of change and the needs of change were not so paramount on this local scale, and thus, many of the engineering marvels of the Roman Empire were not so much “lost” (aqueducts and large scale paved roads) but that they just weren’t needed on the scale that the Romans used them. Still, even in the localized world of the early Middle Ages, change happened, and changes from one area often led to changes in other areas.

Bottom Line:

This program changed the way I look at the world, and taught me to look at the causal movers as more than just single moments, or single people, but as a continuum that allows ideas to be connected to other ideas. Is Burke’s premise a certainty? No, but he make a very compelling case, and the connections from one era to another are certainly both credible and reasonable. There is a lot of detail thrown at the reader, and many o those details may seem tangential, but he always manages to come back and show how some arcane development in an isolated location, perhaps centuries ago, came to be a key component in out technologically advanced lives, and how it played a part in our current subordination to technology today. Regardless of the facts, figure and pictures (and there are indeed a lot of them), Connections is a wonderful ride. If you are as much of a fan of history as I am, then pretty much anything James Burke has written will prove to be worthwhile. Connections is his grand thesis, and it’s the concept that is most directly tied to him. This book shows very clearly why that is.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 21 Jan 2014
By 
Paschalis Gkogkoudis "Pgko_hermes" (Athens, Greece) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Connections (Paperback)
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 Brilliant book, introduces wondering, 20 Jan 2014
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This review is from: Connections (Hardcover)
First introduced to his works in my twenties, a must for any curious & questioning mind, IMHO. Radical, from the root, source.
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