Monday, September 03, 2012

The Swerve : How the world became modern

I tend to be mid-way through several books at once, I think this worked fine when I read physical books but it's become a problem with using a e-reader. There's no real limit to the number of books I can start and still be able to keep track of where I am, which means I never finish anything!

To try and avoid this problem, I've changed-up my reading style on the e-reader and I'm only reading a single book at a time. Most recently I read "The Swerve: How the World became modern"

I enjoyed this book a lot. I know very little about the early Greek city states or European history, so a lot of content was new and interesting for me. It's well written and easy to read. Unfortunately it doesn't even attempt to answer the question posed in the title "How the world became modern" (Although it does put forward an entertaining thesis). This is a shame because I think it's an interesting question; it seems we were so close to being modern several times in history but we fell short.Such as:

Hero of Alexandria (a city in Egypt named after Alexander the Great), around 30 A.D. invented a steam engine (and automons, vending machines and a whole host of other bits and pieces)
Hero's Steam Engine

The Indus Valley civilisation (in modern day Pakistan) had underground sewers and plumbing in 2700 B.C. London didn't get something similar until 1800s A.D!