The Battery: How Portable Power Sparked a Technological RevolutionThe Battery: How Portable Power Sparked a Technological Revolution by Henry Schlesinger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a popular science book at that great genre’s finest. And, of course, it necessarily will have the genre’s ever-present flaws.

Contrary to what it says on the cover, this book isn’t so much about the battery as it is a whirlwind tour of electronics history. Since it turns out that the history of the battery and the history of electronics matches up pretty closely (for electronics research proceeded based on capacitors and batteries for a good hundred years before generators started to appear), it’s hard to say that the title of the book is a deception. But it’s not entirely the truth, either.

Once you get past the title and figure out what the book is REALLY about, though, it does an admirable job. Don’t expect any real technicalities here, though. If you don’t already know how batteries (or telegraphs or telephones or transistor radios) work, you won’t know it by the end of this book either. Instead, Schlesinger tells the stories of the personalities and historical circumstances surrounding each leap forward.

It’s a nice and fluffy way to approach the subject. And considering how much electronic devices (battery-powered and otherwise) have infiltrated our lives, it’s probably worth getting a small grasp on their histories. And this is a fine book for just that sort of thing.

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