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How the World Was One Hardcover – June 1, 1992

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (June 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553074407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553074406
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.2 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,056,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Fully one-half of this personalized history of telecommunications appeared in Clarke's Voices Across the Sea (1958), but few authors bear repeating so well as this renowned writer of science fiction and fact. Clarke's own enthusiasm for the field emerged when he was a youth working in a post office, and continues unabated. Parts I and II cover the campaigns to lay the transatlantic telegraph cables begun in the 1850s; by the era of radio communications, young Clarke is already a participant, inventing voice-activated light signals in the garage. By 1945, he leapfrogged technology in a prophetic paper called "Extra Terrestrial Relays," which first proposed geosynchronous communication satellites. Clarke made his reputation by crafting imagination into vision; he deserves bragging rights on the comsat (communications satellite) system (the chapter "How I Lost a Billion Dollars" describes how he lost patent rights). Best is his willingness to bet on ESP in the final chapter's speculation. A vintage offering from the author of 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

This is a collection of new and recycled material in which Clarke tells the story of some of the engineering breakthroughs that made the communications revolution possible. Librarians may question the need for this book: Clarke includes speeches, articles, and some book chapters available elsewhere. But the author's engaging, personable voice and his positive enthusiasm for things scientific are worth encountering again and again. Most enjoyable is "Wiring the Abyss," a true adventure of the laying of the first transatlantic cables starring an amazing cast of Victorian eccentrics, businessmen, and scientists. Buy this book not as a full history of telecommunications but as another welcome title in the Clarke opus. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 3/1/92.
- Ellen McDermott, NYNEX Corp., White Plains, N.Y.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

"SIR ARTHUR C. CLARKE (1917-2008) wrote the novel and co-authored the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey. He has been knighted by Queen Elizabeth II, and he is the only science-fiction writer to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. His fiction and nonfiction have sold more than one hundred million copies in print worldwide.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Bill R. Moore on April 28, 2001
Format: Hardcover
How The World Was One is a highly interesting history of communications from the telegraph forward, written by a true expert on the subject. The first 100 or so pages of the book focus on the invention of the telegraph, and the great and largely unknown trials and troubles that went into the laying of the first transatlantic submarine cable. This stranger-than-fiction tale is enchanced by the underlying substory of the life of such people as the "great American" Cyrus W. Field. Further into the book, we are told of the invention of the telephone and the subsequent impact it had on communications, and, indeed, civilization itself. Here we hear about people such as, of course, Alexander Graham Bell, and Oliver Heaviside. After this, we are treated to a true insider's view of comsats, a thing which Clarke, as is well known, played a large part in, and we are given here a reprint of his classic "Short Pre-History of Comsats: Or How I Lost A Billion Dollars In My Spare Time." Due to the author's personal involvement, the subject comes off as fresh and interesting, and does not read like dry technical jargon. The same is true of the book as a whole. There are technical bits involved (indeed, in the book there is a reprint of ACC's original comsat essay "Extra-Terrestrial Relays", published in Wireless World in 1945), but Clarke is a gifted writer, and the book's prose is such that it is interesting to the expert and enlightening and entertaining to the unitiated. This book is fairly hard to find, but I suggest you pick it up if you can find it, if you are looking for some good non-SF ACC, or a get-it-all-in-one-place communications history.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Barkley Kern on June 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Clarke's telling of Cyrus Fields' incredible effort to connect Europe and North America with a telegraph cable is fascinating. This story seems to have been lost to history except for this book which now sadly appears to be out of print. What a pity! If you can find it. Read it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Craig Bartmess on March 16, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This book is an insightful and interesting look at the Communications Revolution. This is a revolution that has touched and changed every aspect of human life. Clarke divides his book into three parts: the past, the present and the future. The first part of the book is a history of the laying of the first transoceanic cable between Europe and America. At first glance this seems to have little relevance to the "technologies" of the modern age. We all admit that our personal computers, the Internet, cell phones, cyber space, and satellite links are precipitating a revolution. This is a revolution that is often portrayed as very recent in origin. Yet these technologies are in fact only the latest manifestation of a cultural mind shift that began over 150 years ago. The author's entertaining description of the coming together of personalities, science, politics, and economics was fascinating. As I read further it became clear that it was not only an interesting story about the past but also a striking parallel to our present situation and a powerful insight into the challenges of our future.
The second part of the book takes a look at the present (1992) state of communications in the world. This was informative for someone with very little technological knowledge. Clarke explains such things as fiber optics and how satellite communications takes place. He also explains the technological difficulties of various methods of communication. Have you ever wondered why we still have transoceanic cables in this age of instantaneous satellite communication? Clarke makes the answer not only accurate but also interesting. Written like an unfolding mystery novel, the reader is drawn into areas of scientific knowledge that might have seemed too complicated or too boring for the layperson.
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By Bruce Jandrey on June 25, 2014
Format: Paperback
I love this book. It is a non-fiction account of the start of the telecom business. Fascinating stories of fortunes won and lost, and the dangers of spooling out trans continental cabling. Good business read. The writing is great as you'd expect from Arthur C. Clarke.
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