Currently reading

Paul Hanley
A Month in the Country
Michael Holroyd, J.L. Carr
A Tale of the Dispossessed: A Novel
Laura Restrepo, Dolores M. Koch
Mesabi Pioneers
Jeffrey Smith, Russell Hill
The Crusades Through Arab Eyes
Jon Rothschild, Amin Maalouf
Island of a Thousand Mirrors
Nayomi Munaweera

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation

The Idea Factory: Bell Labs and the Great Age of American Innovation - Jon Gertner This is a well-written, well-researched history of the center of technological innovation in the first 3/4 of the 20th century. The author picked his stories well, focusing on a few of the most impactful players in the history of technology, data, and communication. There were a few stories that I expected but weren't included, but upon reflection, they were outside the main thrust of the book.

I enjoyed all the stories about the people and their technologies, but I particularly appreciated the author's attempts to convey how the culture of innovation was nurtured (am I allowed to use such a feminine word in talking about this masculine lab?) and sustained. He asks the right questions, including whether the monopoly was necessary to pursue basic science, and offers some data to inform the discussion, but isn't heavy handed about pointing to all the answers. Since I work in basic research, this book provided a lot for me to chew on regarding the relationship between science, technology, and the marketplace.