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Faster Audio CD – Abridged, Audiobook

3.5 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for James Gleick:

"Chaos is not only enthralling and precise, but full of beautifully strange and strangely beautiful ideas."
-- Douglas Hofstadter

"There is a teleological grandeur about this new math that gives the imagination wings."
-- Vogue

"Gleick has a novelist's touch for describing his scientists and their settings, an eye for the apt analogy, and a sense of the dramatic and the poetic."
-- The San Francisco Chronicle

"The clearest statement I have seen of the true spirit of science. Although I am a long-time friend and admirer of Feynman, I feel that I know him better after reading this book than I did before."
-- Freeman Dyson

"A rare jewel-like biography. I can't remember a book in which, confronted with a personality so complex and a subject so difficult, I felt, as a reader, so secure."
-- Robert Kanigel, The Washington Post

From the Hardcover edition.

From the Inside Flap

Read by the author
5 CDs / approx. 5 hours

We are always trying to save it. We fit more and more into less and less of it. But no matter what we do, there is never enough of it. With acute insight and mordant wit, James Gleick examines the biological, psychological, and cultural considerations that define our very human limits where time is concerned. He begins with "technological" time: the development of the watch; the advent of standard time; the jolt of recognition brought about by machines in which speed could be measured, computed, or adjusted; photography's ability to freeze a fast-moving world; computer-generated time. He then explores the myriad ways--from business-cycle time to beeper medicine to Federal Express to quick playback buttons on answering machines--in which we employ speed in an attempt to streach the mere 1,440 minutes alloted to us each day.

Faster is a fascinating, eye-opening portrait of our life and times--and the time in out lives--as we prepare for the final sprint toward the millennium.


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Product Details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Abridged edition (August 17, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375408878
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375408878
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 5.7 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,085,779 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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