In This Review

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution
By Walter Isaacson
560 pp, Simon & Schuster, 2014
Purchase
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future
By Peter Thiel,Blake Masters
224 pp, Crown Business, 2014
Purchase

The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. BY WALTER ISAACSON. Simon & Schuster, 2014, 560 pp. $35.00.

Zero to One: Notes on Startups, or How to Build the Future. BY PETER THIEL WITH BLAKE MASTERS. Crown Business, 2014, 224 pp. $27.00.

In the grand scope of human history, technological progress is actually a surprisingly new phenomenon. While there had always been the occasional new invention or technological breakthrough, it wasn’t until the Industrial Revolution that sustained technological progress became a reality—and, with it, the possibility of steadily rising living standards. For most of the past two centuries, that progress was most visible in the industrial and agricultural realms. But over the past 60 years or so, the lion’s share of innovation has come from a single sector: what is now loosely called “information technology.” When thinking about innovation in the United States today, the first (and sometimes only) place that comes to mind is Silicon Valley. In the simplest sense, Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators explains how that happened and, in the process, sheds some interesting light on what drives innovation more generally.


The Innovators doesn’t begin in the Valley, though. It doesn’t even begin in

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