Friday, June 8, 2012
Book Review: The Information: A History, A Theory, A Flood
James Gleick is one of my favorite science writers, and if I could figure out exactly why, I might become that much better of a writer myself. His books on Richard Feynman and Chaos Theory were what actually made me want to be a science writer in my early days of college. When I heard his most recent book was about information theory, I was a bit non-plussed. I wanted more of his writing about personalities like his small book on Newton, and it didn't sound like this would have much personality or history. It's information, after all! But Gleick kind of pulls it off. It helps that there is interesting, unknown history, especially with Charles Babbage and Claude Shannon, and that there's some depth to his subject, which Gleick is talented at drawing out details when others would gloss over it. I did listen to the audiobook version and I think my experience would have been better in print, because I missed visuals, and Gleick is definitely writing to be read more than to be heard. Ultimately Gleick's talent made the topic worth it, although I'm still wishing for even more personality.