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Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything

52 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0679775485
ISBN-10: 067977548X
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Editorial Reviews


"Fascinating and disturbing, amusing and informative, Faster is an eclectic stew combining history, academic research, and anecdotes drawn from the popular media." --The Boston Globe

"Well written and enjoyable. . . . A book that demands your attention." --The Christian Science Monitor

"Nimble, smart, often funny, and--best of all--fast." --The New York Times Book Review

From the Inside Flap

From the bestselling, National Book Award-nominated auhtor of Genius and Chaos, a bracing new work about the accelerating pace of change in today's world.

Most of us suffer some degree of "hurry sickness." a malady that has launched us into the "epoch of the nanosecond," a need-everything-yesterday sphere dominated by cell phones, computers, faxes, and remote controls. Yet for all the hours, minutes, and even seconds being saved, we're still filling our days to the point that we have no time for such basic human activities as eating, sex, and relating to our families. Written with fresh insight and thorough research, Faster is a wise and witty look at a harried world not likely to slow down anytime soon.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (September 5, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 067977548X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679775485
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #439,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

James Gleick was born in New York and began his career in journalism, working as an editor and reporter for the New York Times. He covered science and technology there, chronicling the rise of the Internet as the Fast Forward columnist, and in 1993 founded an Internet startup company called The Pipeline. His books have been translated into more than twenty-five languages.

His home page is at, and on Twitter he is @JamesGleick.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By John Stamper VINE VOICE on January 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Faster" is a book about the modern culture of speeding up to save milliseconds. James Gleick finds so many interesting aspects of this "age of acceleration" that we are now living in... further, he wastes no time in describing the many facets of this new lifestyle and the possible ramifications of what he calls "hurry sickness".
Why are we in such a rush?? Are we really saving time? And just what do we DO with those few seconds we seem to save by multitasking even the smallest of our daily activities?
"Faster" answers many of those questions and it also looks into other scientific aspects of time and how we perceive it. I highly recommend this book for those who feel rushed in their lives but don't know why. I also recommend it for anyone interested in the science of time and time travel. James Gleick is a genius. He has an incredible way of provoking the reader to look closer into something and see what is really happening there.
Hurry up and read this book, you'll be amazed at what you'll learn.
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58 of 70 people found the following review helpful By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 22, 2002
Format: Paperback
After hearing so many people rave above Gleick's two previous books, "Chaos" and "Genius", I was very much taken aback by this unstructured collage of factoids and tidbits. Written in a whiny and grating first-person address to the reader, the book regurgitates endless anecdotal and semi-documented examples of how modern life has accelerated the pace of everyday life. It's somewhat bizarre (or perhaps nudge-nudge, wink-wink, ironic) that the book is divided into wee snippets of psuedo-chapters, reflecting/acknowledging?, the national decline in attention span. While some of these individual items are certainly interesting in their own merit-I liked the discussion of the original research into "Type A" personalities, the bit on telephone voice acceleration technology, and the brief economics of time part near the end-the overall effect is like reading a scrapbook of magazine sidebars and mini-features with no framework other than the self-evident notion that in the industrialized West, we live at a "faster" pace than any previous generation. Nowhere is there any discussion of how we might, as a society, turn away from this trend, or even if we should. (Gleick implicitly characterizes this trend as a negative one throughout). A breathlessly superficial survey which offers no analysis or insight.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
James Gleick's "Faster" is a wry, many-faceted meditation that takes as its starting point the notion that our lives, both at work and at leisure, have inexorably sped up. That's not a new idea, of course. Get any group of people 35 or older reminiscing, and the topic will eventually be chewed over till everyone sounds like Dana Carvey's Cranky Old Man on Saturday Night Live....
'Why, we remember the days when you had to actually go into a bank and see a teller to get cash, when nobody had a fax machine, when we had to keep from playing our favorite tunes too often because, as every audiophile knew, the grooves on the LP needed time to rest; and, dammit, we liked it that way!'
Employing a knowing, tongue-in-cheek style and, yes, a suitably fast pace, Gleick examines every time-related dimension of life in what he calls this "epoch of the nanosecond." He observes that "a compression of time characterizes the life of the century now closing," and he proceeds to peg our obsession with correct time, our frustration with things that go too fast or too slow, the evolution of the concept of speed, the pervasive influence of the computer and the effect of the culture of acceleration on the arts.
His most resonant chapter heading is "The Paradox of Efficiency." Gleick uses the phrase to describe the complicated systems that businesses use in order to become vastly more efficient (and less likely to bend to your whim). Missed your connecting flight? Thanks to modern flight planning programs that keep far fewer "extra" planes on hand, you stand a good chance of waiting longer than ever for another one.
But the paradox of efficiency doesn't apply to customer service alone.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Andrew J. Dickholtz on May 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
James Gleick's new book, "Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything," discusses many of the shortcomings and consequences of living in society pre-occupied with speed and, accordingly, how everything in our own lives - from work to food to culture - is being raced-through at a mind-blowing clip. Not only are we increasingly incapable of enjoying our own lives but the line between a life "lived" and one "spent" is being blurred.
Although I enjoyed "Faster" and appreciated Gleick's prompting to consider the proper speed at which life should be lived, I could not help but also be critical of it. The average chapter-length in "Faster" is somewhere around five pages. Not surprisingly, one is escorted through the book at a spritely clip, due mostly to Gleick's zeal and his technicque to state and re-state his same harrangue in every (and, sometimes, even in the same) chapter. Wording his argument differently by only substituting one or two words.
While managing to comment on how just about every element of Western society during the later-20th century has 'sped-up' without ever reflecting on the evolution of our increasingly-technological culture, Gleick short-shrifts his readers -- making them believe that a pause and a deep breath once or twice in the day (which was allotted to your ancestors in their idyllic worlds, don't you know) is better than the alternative in which you live, where you rush through your life at break-neck speed where you accomplish nothing. Of course, Gleick fails to mention the unbearable, sixteen-hour work-days that persons living in this country endured prior to modern labor laws and, accordingly, their certain lack of 'free time.
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