Wonderland

How Play Made the Modern World

3.86 based on 189 ratings & 28 reviews on Goodreads.com
Macmillan

Publication date: 01.12.2016
ISBN: 9781509837281
Number of pages: 0

Synopsis

'The book is a house of wonders' The New York Times

'Steven Johnson is the Darwin of technology' Walter Issacson, author of Steve Jobs

What connects Paleolithic bone flutes to the invention of computer software? Or the Murex sea snail to the death of the great American city? How does the bag of crisps you hold in your hand help tell the story of humanity itself?

In his brilliant new work on the history of innovation, international bestseller Steven Johnson argues that the pursuit of novelty and wonder has always been a powerful driver of world-shaping technological change. He finds that that throughout history, the cutting edge of innovation lies wherever people are working the hardest to keep themselves and others amused.

Johnson's storytelling is just as delightful as the inventions he describes, full of surprising stops along the journey from simple concepts to complex modern systems. He introduces us to the colourful innovators of leisure: the explorers, proprietors, showmen, and artists who changed the trajectory of history with their luxurious wares, exotic meals, taverns, gambling tables, and magic shows.

Johnson compellingly argues that observers of technological and social trends should be looking for clues in novel amusements. You'll find the future wherever people are having the most fun.

In the media

Johnson is a master storyteller, weaving disparate elements together into a rich and seamless tapestry of technology and human history
Booklist (starred review)
In this charming study, Johnson (How We Got to Now) examines how the seemingly frivolous and unproductive aspects of society — the things people do for fun, pleasure, and entertainment — have influenced, defined, and created the world… In an entertaining and accessible style, he takes tangents that arrive at sometimes startling conclusions, like a magician practicing misdirection
Publishers Weekly
Johnson is an engaging writer, unable to bore the reader
The Guardian