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Eureka!: The Surprising Stories Behind the Ideas That Shaped the World Paperback – July 6, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 259 pages
  • Publisher: Perigee Trade; 1 edition (July 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399535896
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399535895
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 6.3 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,429,048 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Marlene Wagman-Geller is the author of two previous books, Once Again, to Zelda and Eureka!. She lives in San Diego.

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Purplerunninghorse on September 14, 2010
Format: Paperback
I have always wondered how people take their inspiring ideas and make them into world famous products, etc. For example, how did the idea of Madame Tussand's wax museum actually come into being?! This book gives you the interesting background of the museum, plus many others.

This book proves once and for all that truth is even stranger and more interesting than fiction. You will recognize almost all of the famous people in this book, as the author made a special attempt to include people who would be generally known to the American public.

While the book is frequently noted for how a German sex toy became a Barbie doll, there are so many other intriguing stories. Who knew that Starbucks was rejected as an idea? Or that the slinky really owes its success to a woman?

You'll learn about Dr. Seuss and Woolworth's. You'll be able to regal your friends with your new found knowledge. These are such amazing stories, you won't be able to put the book down or forget them!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By magnum on August 7, 2010
Format: Paperback
Book Review | 'Eureka!: The Surprising Stories Behind the Ideas That Shaped the World'
'Light bulb' moment explored: Forehead slaps changed globe

By Scott Coffman * Special to The Courier-Journal * August 7, 2010

The central conceit of this extremely enjoyable book is ingeniously simple: Begin each chapter with a somewhat vague description of a historical figure -- who may or may not be recognizable by name alone -- and then fill in the remaining pages with the person's story, complete with the "Eureka!" event that changed lives and history.

The story of the author's moment of inspiration -- the one that was the gestation of the book -- is entertainingly told in the forward. Wagman-Geller also describes the criteria for the stories included in the book: Some stories fell to the wayside not because they were less than riveting, but because they lacked a "light bulb" moment. Other stories had the requisite "slap to the forehead" origins, but not enough verifiable information was available about the creators and their handiwork.

The disparate subjects included never fail to entertain: the name Anne Made Grosholz may be unfamiliar, but only a hermit would be unfamiliar with her life's work; Pierre de Coubertin created the most famous quadrennial event in the world, even if you didn't know it; uncover the connection between the allegedly treasonous Alfred Dreyfus and racing great Lance Armstrong; learn the shocking last request of Bill Wilson, self-described as "just another drunk" and yet a savior to millions; discover the daughter of immigrants who created one of America's most enduring icons; and learn the identity of the "boy born on the wrong side of the tracks..." and how his Eureka has "... changed the way (the world) does business.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By J. MORRISON on June 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was looking for something interesting to read for a long flight and I don't think I could have selected a better book. There is just enough detail regarding each story to not cross the line into boredom. At a quick glance in the bookstore, I found myself reviewing the ideas and inventions discussed in order to determine if I had enough interest in their origin. When I came across subjects that I would never be interested in (i.e. The Kentucky Derby, Kwanzaa, Race for the Cure, etc.), I read them anyway and found them equally as fascinating. When I got to the end, I was actually disappointed as this was a very entertaining read.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By alreader on November 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book for a young, teenage boy who has an inquisitive mind. I read the book before giving it as I wanted to be sure that it was appropriate. Academically and topically, it was a little advanced for a young teenager. I will give the book, but it is probably best suited for a more mature audience. From an adult's perspective, I wish the articles had included a few more facts, e.g., dates, locations.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Stephen H on December 13, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The concept behind this book is fantastic. I picked it up in the knowledge that I would soon see "behind the scenes", to how ideas first came into existence.

Unfortunately, all too often promise and reality do not match. The author opens her book with the apocryphal tale of Archimedes and his bathtub. This is the only entry that addresses "ideas that shaped the world" prior to the 18th century, to which we then leap in one move.

Arriving in the year 1772 (apparently picked at random, as while the book suggests this is when the hymn was created more useful sources differ), we hear about John Newton, the ex-slaver who wrote "Amazing Grace". Ah - an ex-slaver who has had a eureka moment and turned against slavery. No, the "eureka" moment is writing a hymn. (It is probably important to point out that Newton took many years from his religious conversion to turn his back on slavery).

We can then move forward a few chapters, until we arrive at the story of the founder of chiropractic, a quack by the name of Daniel David Palmer. This is a eureka moment? How can one classify the birth of a new idea of totally unscientific, unfounded quackery as "an idea that shaped the world"?

The lack of a quality research focus, and reliance on hearsay and apocrypha, doom this book to the aisles of pseudo-history and make it an utter disappointment for any reader who wishes to discover any new fact regarding anything actually important. Ms Wagman-Geller should focus on historical fiction if she wishes to ensure her future novels are correctly classified.
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