To sum it up quickly, Connections is a 10-part summary of several significant events and discoveries in human history. It’s available to watch on YouTube or on DVD, and as a book.
Finally, in the year 2021, I realized my mistake in putting off this classic, this packed source of fundamental academic knowledge, mainly involving science, industrial development, and otherwise, modern history.
Connections is an impressively dense collection of knowledge, aged as it may be, a laser-sharp summary of significant moments in time, presented in an almost-sarcastic but always precise way.
Here we learn about profound changes across the timeline of human history, as a well-respected Britain educator would have believed them. In this case, from the very orderly and clever then-beer-drinking-and-middle-aged goofball himself, James Burke.
Is “Connections” the perfect record of humanity? Impossible. Is it worth reading, hearing, or watching? Yes.
Anyone who wants to add to their knowledge of science and/or history can find something profound in the 10 sections of Connections. Even if you have reasons not to believe what Burke is teaching, you can at least see and hear the way the Western Academic World views recent and not-so-recent history. Just like athiests can read the bible purely to better understand the world, as its most-published book.
Much like Carl Sagan’s Cosmos (which I’ll give its own post soon), Connections is a gift that keeps on giving, something that can be processed over a matter of hours or years, if needed. In my case, the latter. I just didn’t have the patience or the curiosity that I have for this stuff now. Now, it really hits the spot.
Connection is not about just believing what James Burke tells you, and I’m sure he would even say the same. It’s about considering how we got here, literally, and I mean literally in the literal way. Whether you believe his version or not, it’s important to consider the question: How did the modern world get to be this way? Who’s watching the watchers?
The Connections video series is enjoyable, if not cheesy, and always pretty light-hearted. Burke keeps things ever-so-slightly sarcastic and firm all at once. Even while describing the brutal, tragic ongoing history of humanity, Burke manages to keep things from getting too caught up in one direction or another.
The hardcover book is like a good school book, but better. I found an old copy on eBay and am even enjoying the dirty old smell of the 304-page beauty.
With Connections, we get the full retro-science experience, with a refreshing twist of new details for those of us who grew up in the United States.