How We Got to Now: Six Innovations that Made the Modern World

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From Steven Johnson, the best-selling author of Where Good Ideas Come From, comes How We Got to Now, the companion book to his six-part BBC One television series exploring the power and the legacy of great ideas. How did photography bring about social reform? What connects refrigeration to Hollywood? And how did our battle against dirt help create smartphones? In this story of ingenious breakthroughs and unsung heroes, Steven Johnson explores the essential innovations that changed the world and how we live in it. "A new Steven Johnson book is something not to be missed. The author has become the leading writer on how inventions happen." (Daniel Finkelstein, The Times, Books of the Year). "Graceful and compelling...you'll find yourself exhilarated." (The New York Times Book Review). "Readable, entertaining, and a challenge to any jaded sensibility that has become inured to the everyday miracles all around us." (Peter Forbes, Guardian). "This nimble history of invention...is a many-layered delight." (Nature).

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Praise for Steven Johnson

"A great science writer." -- Bill Clinton, speaking at the Health Matters conference

"Mr. Johnson, who knows a thing or two about the history of science, is a first-rate storyteller." -- "The New York Times" --The New York Times

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

-Johnson is a polymath. . . . [It's] exhilarating to follow his unpredictable trains of thought. To explain why some ideas upend the world, he draws upon many disciplines: chemistry, social history, geography, even ecosystem science.- -- Los Angeles Times
-Steven Johnson is a maven of the history of ideas... How We Got to Now is readable, entertaining, and a challenge to any jaded sensibility that has become inured to the everyday miracles all around us.- -- The Guardian
-[Johnson's] point is simple, important and well-timed: During periods of rapid innovation, there is always tumult as citizens try to make sense of it....Johnson is an engaging writer, and he takes very complicated and disparate subjects and makes their evolution understandable.- -- The Washington Post

-Through a series of elegant books about the history of technological innovation, Steven Johnson has become one of the most persuasive advocates for the role of collaboration in innovation....Mr. Johnson's erudition can be quite gobsmacking.- - The Wall Street Journal

-An unbelievable book...it's an innovative way to talk about history.- -- Jon Stewart
-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 result is nothing less than a celebration of the human mind.- -- The Daily Beast
-Fascinating...it's an amazing book!- -- CBS This Morning

-A full three cheers for Steven Johnson. He is, by no means, the only writer we currently have in our era of technological revolution who devotes himself to innovation, invention and creativity but he is, far and away, the most readable.- -- The Buffalo News
-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
-A rapid but interesting tour of the history behind many of the comforts and technologies that comprise our world.- -- Christian Science Monitor
-How We Got to Now... offers a fascinating glimpse at how a handful of basic inventions--such as the measurement of time, reliable methods of sanitation, the benefits of competent refrigeration, glassmaking and the faithful reproduction of sound--have evolved, often in surprising ways.- -- Shelf Awareness
-[Johnson] writes about science and technology elegantly and accessibly, he evinces an infectious delight in his subject matter...Each chapter is full of strange and fascinating connections.- -- Barnes and Noble Review
-From the sanitation engineering that literally raised nineteenth-century Chicago to the 23 men who partially invented the light bulb before Thomas Edison, [How We Got to Now] is a many-layered delight.--- Nature Review
-A highly readable and fascinating account of science, invention, accident and genius that gave us the world we live in today.- --Minneapolis Star Tribune

About the Author:

Steven Johnson is the US bestselling author of Where Good Ideas Come From, Future Perfect, The Invention of Air, The Ghost Map, and Everything Bad Is Good for You. He is the founder of a variety of influential websites and has written for Time, Wired, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

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