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Circles: Fifty Round Trips Through History Technology Science Culture (Englisch) Gebundene Ausgabe – 5. Dezember 2000

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Unlike Perry Mason, James Burke does not try to assemble watertight (if convoluted) cases. His essays in the history of technology are more like random walks, paeans to serendipity. In The Knowledge Web Burke attempted to duplicate on paper the feeling of inter- and cross-linking trends that you find in history and on the World Wide Web. The essays in Circles are more artificially restricted, topological circles that wrap around. A typical trip goes from the Space Shuttle to Skylab to Werner von Braun to feedback to digestion to lab animals to the Humane Society to sea rescues to charting sea currents to Foucault to astronomical photography to the solar corona to Skylab. Whew!

"There are two reasons why I make such play of the unstructured nature of history, but then, in this book, give it a formal shape," Burke says. "One reason is that otherwise these essays would have mirrored the serendipity I described, just going from anywhere to anywhere.... Choosing to go round in circles, and to end each story where it begins, lets me illustrate perhaps the most intriguing aspect of serendipity at work, which shows itself in the way in which history generates the most extraordinary coincidences." He might have added that trying to guess how Burke proposes to connect all this up makes these tales a game for reader as well as writer, a most educational amusement. --Mary Ellen Curtin


Bill Gates James Burke is a favorite author of mine.

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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf (beta) 27 Rezensionen
28 von 29 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
The Delights of Reading James Burke 16. Januar 2001
Von Parker Benchley - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
James Burke strikes again. The author of such compelling books as Connections, The Day the Universe Changed, the Pinball Effect and the Knowledge Web has come up with yet another catchy title to describe his latest effort. And on no level does he disappoint here, using the metaphor of a circle to begin his journey, describe the improvements and sidebars during the trip, and take us back to almost right where we began.
Tne book is also full of the sort of hooks and traps we have grown to enjoy in his writing over the years. Consider this passage at the beginning of one chapter: "Thanks to mass production and distribution, I can go back to the shop and get a free replacement copy for a cup that I found a flaw in last week. It weas one of those willow-pattern things. Genuine Wedgwood. An ironic term, really, because Wedgwood's original stuff was fake." Just when you think you can get out, he pulls you back in again. And don't think you can skim your way through. The facts in this book are so well interwoven that to skim a sentence may mean losing your place in the chapter.
An excellent book for that rainy day or suuny day in the park, or on the train, or anywhere, for that matter.
18 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Light and fun, but far from his best 21. Juli 2003
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
I've been a big fan of Burke for many years, and his web theory of history is a fascinating way to look at the past. But that said, I think that Burke may just have explored all the really good paths through the knowledge web already, and is starting to get stuck for connections. 'Connections' and 'The Day The Universe Changed' really give you a sense of cause-and-effect links through history. In the former, we see a natural and logical progression toward modern technologies, and in the latter, toward aspects of modern society. In 'Circles', though, what we have is just a narrative of a series of coincidences. The things he tries to relate aren't really related -- at least not the way he relates them. Whereas in 'Connections', most of the connections were of the form "In solving problem X, they created problem Y", in 'Circles', the connections tend to be less sound: "One of the guys who was working on problem X knew a guy who was working on problem Y." Unfortunately, this is symptomatic of a lot of Burke's later work, and Circles is more reminscent of Connections 3 than of the early work. It is a fun read, and while Burke's supply of historical connections may be running thin, his supply of wit and literary competance hasn't. But if you're looking for something closer to serious history, stick to his older stuff.
12 von 14 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Just Like Sammy Sosa, Burke Just Keeps Hitting Homeruns! 3. Dezember 2000
Von Mr. Michael Clouser - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Will someone please tell Mr. Burke it is ok to right a subpar book every now and then? As with his previous works (Connections, The Day the Universe Changed, etc) Mr. Burke just keeps belting out home runs like Sammy Sosa does in Wrigley Field, and were talking out of the park here. What I especially liked was the Preface where Mr. Burke takes time to briefly tell us of his passion and how he looks at every story. In his typical but never tiring British style Mr. Burke continues to tell us of how seemingly meaningless events or the cousin of someones uncle who knew someone totally and radically changed history, either through invention or thought. Previous fans of his work will consider this a "must read" item, those looking for something to satisfy a few nights of reading will find this indespensible. Highly recommended!
11 von 13 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
More of the same, but that's good! 2. Dezember 2000
Von R. Riis - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Fans of Burke's previous books (such as myself) will find this another fine, idiosyncratic volume of "connections", following the threads of science, technology, and discovery; the uninitiated may find this one, with its smaller and less dramatic scope, less appealing than "Connections" or "The Day the Universe Changed" or even "The Pinball Effect". It's less pedantic than "The Axemaker's Gift", though, and makes for a more leisurely and enjoyable read. Recommended.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Another Classic 10. Januar 2007
Von K. Nemlich - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Does anyone write about technological history better than James Burke? In this volume, Burke literally takes the reader in circles as he connects ideas, inventions, and innovations that have changed our world. Whether by purpose or serendipity, some of the critical inventions and discoveries came about in highly entertaining ways. With its brief chapters, this is one of those books that it you can easily pick up and set down, and pick up again days later.
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