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Publisher's Summary

A lively history seen through the 50 inventions that shaped it most profoundly, by the best-selling author of The Undercover Economist and Messy.

Who thought up paper money? What was the secret element that made the Gutenberg printing press possible? And what is the connection between The Da Vinci Code and the collapse of Lehman Brothers?

Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy paints an epic picture of change in an intimate way by telling the stories of the tools, people, and ideas that had far-reaching consequences for all of us. From the plough to artificial intelligence, from Gillette's disposable razor to IKEA's Billy bookcase, best-selling author and Financial Times columnist Tim Harford recounts each invention's own curious, surprising, and memorable story.

Invention by invention, Harford reflects on how we got here and where we might go next. He lays bare often unexpected connections: how the bar code undermined family corner stores and why the gramophone widened inequality. In the process, he introduces characters who developed some of these inventions, profited from them, and were ruined by them, as he traces the principles that helped explain their transformative effects. The result is a wise and witty book of history, economics, and biography.

©2017 Tim Harford (P)2017 Penguin Audio

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Thought provoking

An interesting history of the modern world. Easy listen and illuminating. Definitely worth listening to.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Great book - odd narration

The content is an extremely interesting group of summaries tracking the author's estimation of history's most important inventions, some obvious and many not so much. I am sure we can all quibble with his choices to one extent or another, but it is as good of a list as any other I have read.
But, the narrator's choice of accent when reading quotations is distracting in its lack of any apparent authenticity. It is not enough to ruin the experience or anything; it's just very noticeable. At first I thought he was just ridiculing the particular speaker, but the accent seems applied to everyone quoted. It is like an odd amalgamation of an old time radio voice, Jimmy Stewart and a foreigners' impression of a southern American. Please just... Stop. To be fair though, when he is not suffering from this quirk, the reading was very well performed.