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This was arguably one of the most enjoyable books I've listened to in a long while. While my own background is Electrical Engineering, there were concepts and ideas presented in such a simplified manner that this book should be required reading for all students. The history of how our version of electricty came to be was interesting not so much for how the various discoveries came about but the from the human side. There were many interesting stories that I had not heard before or fully understood the personalities involved. The narration is very well done which adds to the enjoyment.
An example is the authors discription of how RADAR really works, not how people thinks it works and how something devised to protect England was taken from the creator and used to firebomb a German city to the absolute distress of the creator. You get the full impact from the joy of discovery to the total dispair as women and children were incinerated.
You feel the joy of Alexendar Graham Bell working to help the deaf while bringing us the Telephone which revolutionized the world.
And while the all widgets are cool, the author goes into how electricty makes us humans work. I learned more from this book than I did in two semesters on biology. Maybe I paid more attention this time but I dont think so, I think it was the excellent presentation of what could be very complex material.
All in all, this is must-listen to audiobook.
75 of 81 people found this review helpful
Given the number of medium to bad reviews here, I thought I'd throw in my "plug." Since I never use audiobooks for scholarly reference, I am not as concerned about accuracy as I might be reviewing a printed text. While the points on accuracy or oversimplification made by some of the reviewers here are well taken, they didn't affect my pleasure in the work, which I thought an excellent audiobook. The writing is quite good and intelligent, at a good pace for audio, so even the author's digressive flights of fancy on the social effects of the transistor, for example, are enjoyable, imaginative riffs. The history of electricity presented here is periodic and a bit quirky, not at all comprehensive. Each episode centers on one or two historical figures and their advancement of electrical knowledge, from Volta to Turing, from telegraph and radar, up to microchips and synapses. The stories are well-told and I actually appreciate the "oversimplified," Dickensian manner in which the author paints his characters in moral hues as villains (Morse, Shockley, etc.) or heroes (Faraday, Turing, etc.) I knew nothing about the topic, so learned much, listened to most chapters twice, and was inspired (or perhaps embarrassed) into learning a bit more about electricity, which is, after all, the deity underlying our modern social structure. Overall, very good audiobook. The reader is good--pleasantly, gruffly avuncular. If you don't know much about electricity I believe you'll like it and learn.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful