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How We Got Here: A Slightly Irreverent History of Technology and Markets Paperback – June 14, 2005

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness (June 14, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060840978
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060840976
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #524,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This pasted-together romp through 300-odd years of technological advancement and financial development reads as it is billed: material cut from the manuscript of Kessler's 2004 book, Running Money. Per the brief foreword, Kessler's aim is to provide a list of "five simple creeds" that have helped him "explain the explainable" and "peer into the fog of the future": lower prices drive wealth; intelligence moves to the edge of the network; horizontal beats vertical; capital sloshes around seeking its highest return; and the military drives commerce and vice versa. His proof is delivered in a whirlwind tour of the industrial and digital revolutions. The first half of the book is a game of hopscotch through the Industrial Revolution and the evolution of early capital markets. The second half tells the story of the computer era and the growth of today's capital markets. Sandwiched between the two is an oddly abbreviated two-chapter section, 10 pages in all, that covers the development of the telegraph, telephone and power generation. Kessler returns to his "simple creeds" here and there, but the only real unifying force is hokey, techy wisecracks. The result is rehashed history often bewilderingly unconnected in theme and chronology, though many individual anecdotes are well told. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

After turning $100 million into $1 billion riding the technology wave of the late 1990s, Andy Kessler recounted his experiences on Wall Street and in the trenches of the hedge fund industry in the books Wall Street Meat and Running Money (and its companion volume, How We Got Here). Though he has retired from actively managing other people's money, he remains a passionate and curious investor. Unable to keep his many opinions to himself, he contributes to the Wall Street Journal, Wired, and lots of Web sites on a variety of Wall Street and technology-related topics, and is often seen on CNBC, FOX, and CNN. He lives in Silicon Valley like all the other tech guys.

More About the Author

Andy Kessler is the author of Wall Street Meat, Running Money, How We Got Here, The End of Medicine and Eat People. Andy worked on Wall Street for almost 20 years, as a research analyst, investment banker, venture capitalist and hedge fund manager. After starting a career designing chips at Bell Labs, Andy worked for PaineWebber and Morgan Stanley and was a partner at Velocity Capital. He has written op-eds for the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Technology Review, The New York Times and elsewhere and has appeared on CNBC, CNN, Fox, NPR and Dateline NBC. He lives in Northern California with his wife and four sons.

Customer Reviews

If you do, however, it is great fun.
Espen Andersen
In fact, the value of that intellectual capital is likely the most profitable aspect of the product and yet our accounting assigns all that value to China incorrectly.
Craig Matteson
This book is a fast read and keeps your attention.
Chris Jaronsky

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Craig Matteson HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on June 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
In his last book, "Running Money" Andy Kessler underscored his arguments with breezy historical accounts that demonstrated the quirks of history and what made the industrial revolution go. "How We Got Here" is a book length version of that history and pulls it more fully what has been happening to intellectual property and capital markets during the past decade.

Kessler tells these stories because he wants his readers to understand the importance of intellectual property, of scaling those ideas to serve the needs of large populations, and of free flowing capital markets to find and support the best ideas. A by-product of these is lower prices for everyone, which leads to an increased standard of living. The author notes that he wishes he had been taught these things as a young man, and I agree that every young person (and everyone else, for that matter) will be better off taking these ideas into their bones. Why? Because we human beings don't always understand specific events all that well. We need broader principles to see our local life as part of a larger whole and the principles that are governing what is happening. Our untrained instincts are quite bad in assessing statistical outcomes (hence the thriving business of casinos).

This is a very entertaining read. It is similar to James Burke's famous "Connections", but this actually has a more focused purpose that Mr. Burke's wonderful vignettes. Kessler is strongest at the end when he is telling about the development of our computer based world because he is talking from his personal experience. Not only does he bring the world of Wall Street into sharp focus, he demonstrates the role of the military in funding the development the networks we use everyday.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Edward Byrne on June 17, 2005
Format: Paperback
This is a nice easy read. Like a decent magazine article it will provide a quick overview about a half and inch deep, fully of snappy lines to keep things moving.

But also like a decent magazine article, the reader wont actually LEARN a heck of a lot. Its more for entertainment.

For those really interested in learning the interaction between technology, Wall Street, and investments I would highly recommend 2 books. In fact, I would recommend them together.

1) Frenzy : Bubbles, Busts, and How to Come Out Ahead

by Carl Haacke.

Frenzy is amazing. It weaves interviews with compelling examples and just enough data to be solid but not enough to overwhelm the non-expert. Its full of big picture and little picture insights.

2) Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital: The Dynamics of Bubbles and Golden Ages

by Carlota Perez

This books is a much heavier read and more academic-- but still worth it for those who can handle it. It provides a good macro picture for the whole business.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David Keirsey on June 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
Andy Kessler tells it like it is and was. This book is one of the most enlightening and entertaining books on the history of technology. But more importantly he combines technology and finance - you get a much more clear understanding of why and how things evolved. It is a must read for anybody interested in how the world works, and how it might evolve in the future.

I was pleasantly surprised that I learned some things I didn't know about the history of the industrial revolution and the computer revolution. That is saying something, since I have read a great deal of history about the industrial revolution and I participated in the computer revolution besides reading a lot about it. Andy Kessler makes all these details interesting and relevant, including not well known facts and connections.

Kessler has a unique and insightful perspective on finance which he includes as a crucial part of the story. I have seen interesting technology stories or interesting financial stories, but to put them together gives us a unique and valuable non-PC narrative.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By J. Allen on June 21, 2005
Format: Paperback
There is a tendency by people today to believe that IT revolution of the last couple of decades is without precedence. Kessler's history shows that entrepreneurs during the industrial revolution made productivity gains that would embarrass today's IT industry. (Eli Whitney's cotton gin produced a factor of 50 productivity gain!)

"How We Got Here" is an short and entertaining history of the industrial revolution. I think that most people have learned about the industrial revolution in a piecemeal fashion without really understanding what it was and how it impacted society. By integrating technology, markets, finance, etc., Kessler's book does a good job of describing the revolution and showing how it changed society.

This book is a must for anyone who thinks the IT industry in the 1990s was an anomaly. The revolution will continue in the 21th century, although the technology and key applications will be different.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Clark Lewis on June 27, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Andy, you finally did it. In the nearly 20 years we've been friends, you finally answered my most frequent question. Find me a book that could help a business graduate better understand technology. He not only let me know, but he wrote the book. Written to help engineers better understand the economics of their wares, it helps me better understand the engineers. My first position out of business school was with Honeywell, where I was one of, if not the first, non-engineer to sell electronic components. The results were outstanding, as marketing trumped engineering skills. Andy's book now helps me with my understanding of technology again as a securities salesman.
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