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Faster: Our Race Against Time


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* A book about our obsession with time and how we can cram as much as possible into the 1440 minutes of every day.

About the Author

James Gleick was an editor and reporter at the New York Times for ten years. He is the author of GENIUS and also CHAOS, which was nominated for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. He lives in New York City.


Fax me, beep me, send me an e-mail, call me on my cell phone, or at worst send me an overnight delivery...just don't waste my time. "Real time" is what people perceive, but many machines are capable of working much, much faster. Technology has pushed the psychology of speed near human limits, so that "race conditions" and "hurry sickness" often prevail. In his other books (Chaos: The Making of a New Science and Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynmann), Gleick took his time to capture the complexities of his subjects, but here his pace is appropriately breathless, and his short chapters will be easily digested by busy people. Has the frantic pace of electronic society made us slaves of our own machines? Do they really make us more productive or even save our time? These are questions that many people are asking, so this book will attract a large readership. Read the book quickly, thoughÄor else you'll fall behind everybody else. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/99.]ÄGregg Sapp, Univ. of Miami Lib., Coral Gables, FL Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

'A bite sized, zippy little book is packed with myriad manifestations of the Need for Speed' EXPRESS ** 'A book that you can dip in and out of at will, always coming up with an intriguing fact or statistic' SUNDAY TIMES **'Gleick offers a lot of witty observation that's worth more than a few of your precious minutes' FOCUS 'Reveals the growth of hurry sickness' OBSERVER ** ' A highly readable dissection of our speed-obsessed age' THE FACE

Technological advances in time measurement and time-saving devices have been fueled by the ever-quickening pace of our lives. Or is it the other way around? Gleick, twice nominated for the National Book Award (for Chaos: Making a New Science and Genius: The Life and Science of Richard Feynman), offers a refreshingly contrarian view of the notion of time management and of the instantaneity ("instant coffee, instant intimacy, instant replay, and instant gratification") of everyday life. Many of us exhibit what doctors and sociologists call "hurry sickness"Äarriving, for example, at an airport gate at the last possible minuteÄan obsession ironically matched by endless waits on expressways and runways. "Gridlocked and Tarmacked are metonyms of our era," writes Gleick, " be stuck in place, our fastest engines idling all around us, as time passes and blood pressures rise." This paradox, and the "simultaneous fragmentation and overloading of human attention" that results, he contends, can be traced to a wide variety of everyday conveniences: microwaves and automatic dishwashers, express mail, beeper medicine, television remote control, even speed-dialing telephones ("Investing a half-hour in learning to program them is like advancing a hundred dollars to buy a year's supply of light bulbs at a penny discount"). Funny and irreverent, Gleick pinpoints the dilemma underlying many of today's technological improvements: that time-saving now comes more from "the tautening net of efficiency" than from raw speed, meaning that any snag in the systemÄwhether a disabled airliner or one or two drivers unaccountably hitting the brakeÄcan spread delay and confusion throughout the network. Paradoxically, too, the increasing pace and efficiency of our lives leads not to leisure and relaxation but to increased boredom: "a backwash within another mental state, the one called mania." This is a book to be studied... slowly. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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