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Riding the Waves: A Life in Sound, Science, and Industry Hardcover – January 18, 2008
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"Beranek's account of his truly remarkable life is a superbly written and concise autobiography that tells a great story." Philip Nelson Times Higher Education Supplement
Leo Beranek's memoir engagingly describes a life that exemplifies the best possibilities of twentieth-century America. The story progresses from a one-room schoolhouse to the birthplace of the internet charting a career that spans science technology business and art. Through peacetime and war Beranek has played a significant and often foundational role in the academic and corporate fields of acoustics electronics and communications. His personal account of that role will be of interest to all students of American history and technology.(Emily Thompson, Professor of History, Princeton University)
"A fascinating glimpse into a time unique in American industrial history.... It is the spirit of Leo Beranek that shines throughout this book -- a spirit of confidence, open-mindedness, and intellectual adventure." Roger Zimmerman IEEE Spectrum
"It must be said that anyone who is interested in the history of America and its 'waves,' whether acoustical or broadcast, will find in this book a wealth of detail and anecdotes worth reading and will meet an author who is as unpresuming and honest as can possibly be expected." Stefaan Van Ryssen Leonardo
About the Author
Leo Beranek is a pioneer in acoustical research, known for his work in noise control and the acoustics of concert halls, and the author of twelve books on these topics. The many awards he has received include the Presidential National Medal of Science, presented in 2003.
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Top Customer Reviews
What an inspiring book especially for the starting acoustician who is grappling for projects. Mr Beranek shows his struggle throughout the years and points out that it aint going to be rosy all the time....hence riding with the waves.
Later, others will write histories of some of the events about which Leo Beranek has written. Their outlooks will be different. Doubtless some will find some of what he did not to their liking. However, one gets the idea that at each turn in his life Beranek did not only what would be best for society and for his family. This is the sort of story Americans could read more often.
My problem with the book is that I just don't think it's very interesting. I have a way of measuring this: Typically, when I buy a book, I make notes of interesting, amusing, and/or outrageous items and their page numbers as I read, so I can find them again later. For example, with the autobiography "Bird of Passage" by physicist Rudolf Peierls, perhaps 50% longer than the Beranek book, I have a dozen such notes. Similarly, my copy of James Gleick's biography "Genius" of Feynman was the source for many such items. But nothing in Beranek's book struck me as noteworthy in this sense -- there's really nothing in it that I want to read again or share with others. So "Riding the Waves" yielded none of my usual notes.
One topic consumes a fair fraction of the book: Beranek's work with a group of other Bostonians to become the operators of Boston's Channel 5 television station. The book provides a real play-by-play on this excruciating process, which took many years. All the highlights and lowlights of the group's morale are covered. Left out is discussion in any depth of why a bunch of smart, well-off people would go through all this for the privilege of owning a **television station**. Either they wanted to do this for the benefit of the larger public (in which case, Beranek should have written more than a few hand-waving details about what they accomplished with the station, once his group achieved control) or they simply looked at it as a good financial investment (in which case it's not an interesting topic in the slightest).
Nancy Sonnabend, Boston, MA Author, Inventor