May I just say that I absolutely adore such books? Books that one can dip into and emerge with information shared simply. No fussy narratives. No jargon. No back and forth in timelines. Just a story well told. A story told around an object but in good old-fashioned style with a beginning, middle and end. No clever turn of phrase. A lovely combination of historical facts with modern relevance and application. It is a style first made famous by Neil MacGregor’s A History of the World in 100 Objects. It is an easy way of retelling stories about the significant moments in history. It is a dangerous trap too for there is a tendency to over simplify and scrub out of the narratives any nuances that may prove to be uncomfortable irritants. But that is not rhe case with Tim Harford’s essays based on his popular podcasts. His selection of very unlikely collection of topics includes the postage stamp, canned food, auctions, fund-raising appeals, Santa Claus, the blockchain, stock options, RFID, movable-type printing press, menstrual pads, pornography, QWERTY, vulcanisation, dwarf wheat, gyroscope, spreadsheets and chess algorithms. These read like short stories except that they are all based in facts anre absolutely rivetting!
Money well spent! Buy it. You will not regret it.
4 October 2020