Wonderland by Steven Johnson
How Play Made the Modern World

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 3 Critic Reviews

My resistance to optimism, never formidable, dissolves by the “Wonderland” preface. But optimist-pessimist is a useful enough binary of character, and Johnson must read differently to pessimists...His loyal readers will cotton to the idea — calico to it! — that the future lies in the fun, and thus that the future is fun.
-NY Times

Synopsis

From the New York Times–bestselling author of How We Got to Now and Where Good Ideas Come From, 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.  
 
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 Steven Johnson

See more books from this Author
STEVEN JOHNSON is the author of the bestsellers The Invention of Air, The Ghost Map, Everything Bad Is Good for You, and Mind Wide Open, as well as Emergence and Interface Culture. He is the founder of a variety of influential websites—currently, outside.in—and is a contributing editor to Wired. He lives in Brooklyn, with his wife and sons.
 
Published November 15, 2016 by Riverhead Books. 328 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Education & Reference, Sports & Outdoors, Science & Math, Crafts, Hobbies & Home. Non-fiction
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Wonderland
All: 3 | Positive: 2 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Excellent
on Sep 06 2016

There’s an infectious spirit of delight in the prose, which matches the themes in a book that will engage even those not entirely convinced by its thesis to take a look from a different perspective.

Read Full Review of Wonderland: How Play Made the... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Excellent
on Jun 23 2017

Less focused on the why than the how, Johnson connects the dots in a way that sheds new light on everyday concepts.

Read Full Review of Wonderland: How Play Made the... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by VIRGINIA HEFFERNAN on Nov 22 2016

My resistance to optimism, never formidable, dissolves by the “Wonderland” preface. But optimist-pessimist is a useful enough binary of character, and Johnson must read differently to pessimists...His loyal readers will cotton to the idea — calico to it! — that the future lies in the fun, and thus that the future is fun.

Read Full Review of Wonderland: How Play Made the... | See more reviews from NY Times

Rate this book!

Add Review
×