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Product Information for "Getting the Message: A History of Communications - Laszlo Solymar" »
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Getting The Message: A History of Communication is a strange book. Is it a present for someone's coffee-table, or a school textbook, or serious history? Laszlo Solymar's quirky commentary mixes colourful character studies with social criticism, technical explanation with personal prejudice. It starts with fire signals and ends with Internet \firewalls\". He tells us that he would join a Campaign for Curbing the Spread of Acronyms. He regrets that e-mail means you get contacted by forgotten acquaintances sending you details of their offspring. He points out that Dudayev, the Chechen rebel leader, was blown to smithereens because he was too fond of his mobile phone, and all this is mixed in with explanations of \"The principles of a triode amplifier\". The narrative is brisk and there are an amazing number of illustrations and cartoons, which make Solymar's points perfectly. For example a prescient Punch cartoon from 1879 shows two people videoconferencing, and there's a picture of an eavesdropping device used by Alexander the Great. Solymar, an Oxford Professor of Engineering, mentions his debt to his fellow dons in the dedication. The exchange of academic ideas has enriched his text. His mind reaches beyond the scientific: he seems perfectly at ease as a historian describing how, during the Russian Revolution, Kerensky and Kornilov had to communicate using the telegraph. Had Russia been less backward, they would have used the telephone. Had they been even more backward, they would have met in person. But they used the telegraph, misunderstood each other, and thus set in motion the October Revolution. This book sets out to be technical, polemical, historical, analytical and readable. With the exception of a few longueurs, the author, through his breadth of reference and determination to be accessible, has succeeded. --Brian Jenner"