By Steven Johnson
In this lushly illustrated follow-up to How We Got to Now, Johnson applies his long-zoom approach to the history of popular
entertainment, contending that the pursuit of novelty and wonder is a powerful driver of world-shaping technological change.
He locates throughout history the cutting edge of innovation
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
colorful innovators of leisure: the explorers, proprietors, show-men, and artists who changed the trajectory of history with their
luxurious wares, exotic meals, taverns, gambling tables, and
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.
Riverhead • 304 pp. • 978-0-399-18448-2 • $30.00 •
Available November 2016 F Y
HOW WE GOT TO NOW
Six Innovations that Made the Modern World
Johnson explores the history of innovation over centuries, tracing
facets of modern life from their creation by hobbyists, amateurs, and
entrepreneurs to their unintended historical consequences.
“You’re apt to find yourself exhilarated….Johnson is not composing an etiology of particular inventions, but doing something
broader and more imaginative….I particularly like the cultural
observations Johnson draws along the way….[He] has a deft
and persuasive touch….[A] graceful and compelling book.”
— The New York Times Book Review.
“The reader of How We Got to Now cannot fail to be impressed by
human ingenuity, including Johnson’s, in determining these often
labyrinthine but staggeringly powerful developments of one thing
to the next.” —San Francisco Chronicle
“What makes this book such a mind-expanding read is Johnson’s
ability to appreciate human advancement as a vast network of influence, rather than a simple chain of one invention leading to another,
and the result is nothing less than a celebration of the human mind.”
— The Daily Beast
Riverhead • 320 pp. • 978-1-59463-393-5 • $18.00 •
Also available: The Ghost Map 978-1-59448-269-4, Everything Bad Is Good for
You 978-1-59448-194-9, Future Perfect 978-1-59463-184-9, The Innovator’s
Cookbook 978-1-59448-558-9, Where Good Ideas Come From 978-1-59448-538-1,
The Invention of Air 978-1-59448-401-8
How Play Made the Modern World