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Publisher's Summary

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 best seller Steven Johnson argues that the pursuit of novelty and wonder has always been a powerful driver of world-shaping technological change. He finds 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.

©2017 Steven Johnson (P)2016 Penguin Random House Audio US

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