Review: From Silk to Silicon

April 9, 2016 History, non-fiction 14

Review: From Silk to SiliconTitle: From Silk to Silicon: The Story of Globalization Through Ten Extraordinary Lives
Author: Jeffrey E. Garten
Source: from publisher for review
Links: Amazon|Indiebound |Goodreads
Rating: four-stars

Summary: This was a fascinating, whirlwind tour of the history of globalization, but would have been better if it were longer.

I’d describe this book as a microhistory, focused on the most influential people in the expansion of globalization. About 30 pages are devoted to each of ten influential individuals, from Genghis Khan to Andy Grove to Margaret Thatcher. Each had a large impact on history, but was also a product of their times and provided an interesting window into the era they lived in.

I really enjoyed this book and found it a surprisingly easy read given the ambitious topic. The author wrote in a way that was very engaging and accessible. I found the sections at the end of each chapter describing the long term impact of these individuals fascinating and persuasive. I could definitely understand why he chose them to focus on! I was less convinced by the bits where the author tried to relate the way these individuals influenced globalization to events happening today. These connections felt tenuous at best.

Although I enjoyed that this was an easy read, I also wanted more. This felt like a very shallow overview of a very complex topic. While the author did take the time to present both the good and bad of globalization and the individuals he profiles, overall, this reminded me of Headstrong – short, fascinating snippets about individuals that just left me wanting more. Since only ten individuals were described here, instead of Headstrong‘s 52, the problem wasn’t as pronounced. I’ll certainly remember all of the individuals the author discussed and have no trouble remembering who was who! Still, this was an enjoyable book on a fascinating topic and I wish the author had believe in his audience’s ability to handle more.

14 Responses to “Review: From Silk to Silicon”

  1. Jackie

    I’m kind of curious about this book. I wonder if From Silk to Silicon would be a good starting point for someone who is a little intimidated by the topic of globalization because, you’re right, it is so complex. I think I’ll keep an eye out for this one.
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    • DoingDewey

      Haha, yes, almost everyone of the people in this book had a dark side! Even though I would have liked more from this book, I did enjoy it and I think it was mostly a good thing that I wanted more 🙂

  2. Kim (Sophisticated Dorkiness)

    I almost requested this one, but ended up not because I thought it was going to be too dense or complicated for my reading mood right now. It sounds like that really wasn’t the case, maybe to a detrimental degree. So, I’m still a little torn — glad it was at least interesting though!
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    • DoingDewey

      I would have liked a little more depth, but I enjoyed it anyway and I’d recommend it 🙂 Definitely not too dense though!

  3. Jenny @ Reading the End

    Yeah, case studies as history tend to not really be my jam. I like it best when an author can find a good balance between the case study story (so there’s something for my emotion-brain to latch onto) and the broader context.
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  4. Aylee

    I think “accessible” is pretty high up on my list of needs when it comes to non-fiction for me, so I can definitely see myself really appreciating this one! Although, conversely I can see how this leads to you wanting MORE – perhaps other authors have approached the topics in more depth elsewhere.
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    • DoingDewey

      I find accessibility important too! I hate when I accidentally pick something up that’s clearly intended for an academic audience. This did leave me to want more, but mostly in a good way.