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Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy Hardcover – 6 Jul 2017
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I love these fact-filled micro-documentaries, steeped in history... A masterclass in socioeconomic storytelling (Financial Times on BBC World Service's Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy)
They are real masterpieces of brevity and audio storytelling . . . brilliant sideways glances . . . I've been surprised by every episode (Monocle Arts Review on BBC World Service's Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy)
This is what BBC radio is for. The series is utterly compelling and low-key... Just brilliant ideas, told simply. A wonderful, wonderful programme (The Times on BBC World Service's Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy)
Harford's script is immaculate and so is his presentation (Times of India on BBC World Service's Fifty Things that Made the Modern Economy)
Short chapters are a delight in this frenetic age . . . Best of all, the book is constantly surprising. It brims with innovations I didn't know about, as well as ones I thought I knew about but did not (The Times)
Fifty Things that Shaped the Modern Economy paints the epic picture of economic change in an intimate way, by telling the stories of tools and ideas that had far-reaching and unexpected consequences.See all Product description
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Top customer reviews
Another winner from Tim Harford!
Harford is known for his informative an witty Radio 4 programme. He is intelligent and does his homework. This book is based on a radio series. The chapters are short and easily digested. His chapter on the computer is excellent and fascinating. This is a delightful book to dip into. It is especially good to note that he reminds us that few single inventions were the work of one person. Einstein needed and got a great deal of help wit the maths needed for his relativity theory, and many laid clam to have invented the lightbulb. There was controversy over the discovery of the double-helix. The single genius inventor is largely myth. Most inventions result from teamwork. Harford also makes you realise that innovation takes place in only a few parts of the globe at any time. For example, in China in one era, in America in another, and so on. Why is this?
A most interesting read.
As usual in his writing, Harford offers a compelling blend of information, analysis and wit, on this occasion sharing the stories behind some of history's most important inventions, innovations and ideas. A number of them, such as the light bulb, are obvious candidates, but how many of us have stopped to think about the significance of the Billy bookcase or how compiling computer programs has changed the world? It turns out they're thoughts worth having.
Harford's main focus through each chapter is on the economic impact one innovation has made, but each tale is woven so deftly that the broader impact on society is readily apparent. The compartmentalised format allows the reader to dip in and out easily, making for a pleasingly accessible book. And the fact it's funny, even charming in places, helps with the enjoyment too. If you're interested in the cornerstones of our economy today, look no further.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Harford was a professional economist before becoming a writer for the Financial Times and then a presenter on BBC radio. He's written a number of books on economics and has now written this one looking at a range of technologies. He hasn't tried to pick the most important items, like the wheel, or light, because so many other people have looked at them. Instead it's an inspired list of varying items and the tales behind them.
The items include : The Plough, Barbed Wire, Robots, The Welfare State, Infant Formula, TV Dinners, The Pill, Video Games, Market Research, Air Conditioning, Department Stores, The Dynamo, The Shipping Container, The Barcode, Tradable Debt and the Tally Stick, The Billy Bookcase, The Elevator, Cuneiform, Public Key Cryptography, Double-Entry Bookkeeping and the Light Bulb. They vary considerably.
Each chapter is very interesting on its own and the whole is even greater than the sum of the parts. The chapters are also quite short and so the book can be read in nice short chunks if desired. Each chapter has extensive references as well so anyone who wants to go into more depth can easily go off and read books about the inventions.
It's really a great read and something that is really informative. Even if you have listened to the podcasts you'll also find more in the book. It's definitely one of Harford's best books and for anybody at all interested in technology or the impacts of technology it's highly recommended.
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