Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World (Paperback)

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Description


“A house of wonders itself. . . . Wonderland inspires grins and well-what-d'ya-knows” —The New York Times Book Review

From the New York Times–bestselling author of How We Got to Now and Farsighted, a look at the world-changing innovations we made while keeping ourselves entertained.

This lushly illustrated history of popular entertainment takes a long-zoom approach, contending that the pursuit of novelty and wonder is a powerful driver of world-shaping technological change. Steven Johnson argues 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 colorful 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.  
 
In Wonderland, 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.

About the Author


Steven Johnson is the bestselling author of ten books, including How We Got to Now, Where Good Ideas Come From, The Invention of Air, The Ghost Mapand Everything Bad Is Good for You. The founder of a variety of influential websites, he is the host and co-creator of the PBS and BBC series How We Got to Now. Johnson lives in Marin County, California, and Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and three sons.


From the Hardcover edition.

Praise For…


“A house of wonders itself. . . . Wonderland inspires grins and well-what-d'ya-knows” —The New York Times Book Review

“A rare gem. . . . Our illogical, enduring fascination with play remains one of life’s great mysteries. That is precisely what makes the subject so fascinating, and Wonderland such a compelling read.” —The Washington Post
 
“The parade of humanity Johnson presents in this lively (and generously illustrated) work leads us to the reassuring conclusion that history is often made not by nerds in lab coats, but by ingenious humans hankering for more intriguing ways to pass the time.” —O, The Oprah Magazine

“Johnson’s writing derives its appeal from his ability to illuminate complex ideas in unpretentious language . . . Johnson’s prose is nimble, his knowledge impressive . . . Wonderland is original and fun, as well it should be, given the subject.” —The San Francisco Chronicle

Wonderland brims with. . .tidbits, memorable moments, and bits of information that light up the mind. . . .[Johnson] surprises and delights as he traces the path of how various objects of fun and fancy—mechanized dolls, follies, and music boxes—drove advances." —The Boston Globe
   
“Mr. Johnson’s narrative is crammed with elegantly told vignettes from the history of ideas. . . . The book is full of excellent facts.” —The Wall Street Journal

“Johnson . . . provides a compelling counterintuitive argument that the Industrial Revolution, democracy, and the computer age were all driven by diversions and appetites that historians too often ignore.” —Kirkus (starred review)

“In an entertaining and accessible style, he takes tangents that arrive at sometimes startling conclusions, like a magician practicing misdirection…Johnson connects the dots in a way that sheds new light on everyday concepts.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Johnson is a master storyteller, weaving disparate elements together into a rich and seamless tapestry of technology and human history.” —Booklist (starred review)

“An engaging survey full of unexpected connections that readers of a historical or sociological bent will find particularly riveting.” —Library Journal


Product Details
ISBN: 9780399184499
ISBN-10: 039918449X
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Publication Date: November 14th, 2017
Pages: 336
Language: English