Friday, December 9, 2016

Wonderland by Steven Johnson

    • Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson
    • Published November 11, 2016
    • Other works by author include How We Got to Now and The Ghost Map, both of which I've read and several others I haven't gotten to yet.

    • In six sections the author shows how the pursuit of play and pleasure (he excludes sex specifically) influenced technology and innovation.
    • Example: The pursuit of spices boosted exploration as the different superpowers of the day tried to get in on the trade, leading to good --- the age of discovery --- and bad --- colonization of the people already living in the discovered lands.. 
      • Christopher Columbus famously searched for a route to more easily obtain spices for Spain when he ran into the Western Hemisphere instead.
      • Nutmeg and cloves were indigenous to only one place, located in the "Spice Islands", now known as the Maluku Islands, today part of Indonesia.
    • The book also covers music, games, taverns/pubs and more.
      • Pubs were instrumental in helping along the American Revolution because they offered a convenient meeting place for all people.

    • I enjoyed this book quite a bit and kept picturing it as a video in my head.
      • PBS showed a series based on the author's last book How We Got to Now and I really hope they make a TV show out of this one too!
    • Recommended for those who enjoy general history as well as micro-histories.