A History, A Theory, A Flood
By James Gleick
(Vintage, Paperback, 9781400096237, 544pp.)
Publication Date: March 6, 2012
Other Editions of This Title: Hardcover
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A New York Times Notable Book
A Los Angeles Times and Cleveland Plain Dealer Best Book of the Year
Winner of the PEN/E. O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award
From the bestselling author of the acclaimed Chaos and Genius comes a thoughtful and provocative exploration of the big ideas of the modern era: Information, communication, and information theory.
Acclaimed science writer James Gleick presents an eye-opening vision of how our relationship to information has transformed the very nature of human consciousness. A fascinating intellectual journey through the history of communication and information, from the language of Africa’s talking drums to the invention of written alphabets; from the electronic transmission of code to the origins of information theory, into the new information age and the current deluge of news, tweets, images, and blogs. Along the way, Gleick profiles key innovators, including Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, Samuel Morse, and Claude Shannon, and reveals how our understanding of information is transforming not only how we look at the world, but how we live.
James Gleick is the author of Chaos and Genius, both nominated for the National Book Award, Faster, What Just Happened, and Isaac Newton, which was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize.
At the core of everything lies a binary on-off switch, says James Gleick, the author of a new book called The Information. Small bits of information, Gleick says, make up our DNA, our brains and our ideas. More at NPR.org
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“Magnificent…this elegant, insightful study reminds us that we have always been adrift in an incomprehensible universe.” –Los Angeles Times, Best Books of 2011
“Grand, lucid and awe-inspiring…information is about a lot more than what human beings have to say to each other. It’s the very stuff of reality, and never have its mysteries been offered up with more elegance or aplomb.” –Salon, Best of 2011
“With his ability to synthesize mounds of details and to tell rich stories, Gleick ably leads us on a journey from one form of communicating information to another.” –Publishers Weekly, Top 100 Books of 2011
“Ambitious, illuminating and sexily theoretical.” –New York Times
“Gleick does what only the best science writers can do: take a subject of which most of us are only peripherally aware and put it at the center of the universe.” –Time
"The Information isn't just a natural history of a powerful idea; it embodies and transmits that idea, it is a vector for its memes . . . and it is a toolkit for disassembling the world. It is a book that vibrates with excitement." --Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing
“No author is better equipped for such a wide-ranging tour than Mr. Gleick. Some writers excel at crafting a historical narrative, others at elucidating esoteric theories, still others at humanizing scientists. Mr. Gleick is a master of all these skills.” —The Wall Street Journal
“Extraordinary in its sweep . . . Gleick’s story is beautifully told, extensively sourced, and continually surprising.” —The Boston Globe
“Audacious. . . . Like the best college courses: challenging but rewarding.” —USA Today
“Challenging and important. . . . This intellectual history is intoxicating—thanks to Gleick’s clear mind, magpie-styled research and explanatory verve.” —The Plain Dealer
“Gleick’s skill as an explicator of counterintuitive concepts makes the chapters on logic . . . brim with tension.” —The Oregonian
“The Information puts our modern ‘information revolution’ in context, helping us appreciate the many information revolutions that preceded and enable it. The internet certainly has changed things, but Gleick shows that it has changed only what has already changed many times before. . . . His enthusiam is contagious.” —New Scientist
“Impressively, reassuringly, Gleick’s substantial, dense book comes as close as anything of late to satiating [the] twin demand for knowledge and clarity.” —The Irish Times
“This is a work of rare penetration, a true history of ideas whose witty and determined treatment of its material brings clarity to a complex subject.” —The Daily Telegraph (London)
“The page-turner you never knew you desperately wanted to read.” —The Stranger
“To grasp what information truly means—to explain why it is shaping up as a unifying principle of science—Gleick has to embrace linguistics, logic, telecommunications, codes, computing, mathematics, philosophy, cosmology, quantum theory and genetics. . . . There are few writers who could accomplish this with such panache and authority. Gleick, whose 1987 work Chaos helped to kickstart the era of modern popular science, is one.” —The Observer (London)
“Enlightening. . . . Engagingly assembled.” —Nature
“ Mesmerizing. . . . As a celebration of human ingenuity, The Information is a deeply hopeful book.” —Nicholas Carr, The Daily Beast
“An amazing erudite and yet highly readable account of why and how information plays such a central role in all our lives, Gleick’s The Information is amongst the most profound books written about technology over the last few years.” —TechCrunch TV
“The web Gleick has woven is a rare one, a whole that envelops and exceeds its many parts, which certainly suits his topic. His contribution—too easily underrated in a work that synthesizes the ideas of others—lies in linking fields of science that aren’t connected in a formal sense. By the close of the book you cannot think of information as you might have before.” —Tim Wu, Slate
“[Gleick] is wrestling with truly profound material, and so will the reader. This is not a book you will race through on a single plane trip. It is a slow, satisfying meal.” —David Shenk, Columbia Journalism Review
“Gleick connects the dots that connect information to us, and there are many dots. . . . Here in one volume is the great story of the most important element at work in the world, and its story is well told. I had forgotten what a fantastic stylist Gleick is. It’s a joy to read him talking about anything.” —Kevin Kelly, The Technium
“Packed with the rich history of human thought and communication through the ages.” —PopMatters