Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future” as Want to Read:
Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Building a Bridge to the 18th Century: How the Past Can Improve Our Future (Επικοινωνία και Κοινωνία)

3.86 of 5 stars 3.86  ·  rating details  ·  346 ratings  ·  30 reviews
At a time when we are reexamining our values, reeling from the pace of change, witnessing the clash between good instincts and "pragmatism," dealing with the angst of a new millennium, Neil Postman, one of our most distinguished observers of contemporary society, provides for us a source of guidance and inspiration. In Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century he revisit ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published June 8th 2011 by Vintage (first published January 1st 1999)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Building a Bridge to the 18th Century, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Building a Bridge to the 18th Century

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 741)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
In this, his final book, Postman's main thesis is that we must look to history to find wisdom to help us tackle the challenges of the future. Having dismissed the 20th century as a disaster, in which people were deluded by the deadly trio of fascism, nazism, and communism, and technological progress was subverted to facilitate more efficient methods of mass killing, he proposes examining the 18th century, the era of the Enlightenment, as the best place to start.

I enjoyed this book far more than
This book was half about the importance of enlightenment thought, and half about sticking it to the postmodernists. Postman is correct that we should be concerned about the effects of new technology on our society, but I think that he is too concerned about the Internet, which I think actually goes some way to restoring a political voice to the masses, and a reducing the monopoly of the oligarchs who own the media. I think that the blogosphere is actually a modern form of the eighteenth century ...more
"Sam kept a diary~~a daybook about his life. It was just a cheap notebook that was always by his bed. Every night, before he turned in, he would write in the book. He wrote about things he had done, things he had seen, and thoughts he had had. Sometimes he drew a picture. he always ended by asking himself a question so he would have something to think about while falling asleep." from Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White

The questions Sam wrote down in his diary were simple, but profound. Why does a
Kirk Lowery
The premise of this book is that the Enlightenment guys, the post-modernists notwithstanding, got it mostly right: about children, language, education, narrative and democracy. The Enlightenment can provide a roadmap or guide to helping build a rational society for the 21th century. A FaceBook review is not the place to a length critique, but allow me to say that I mostly like what he has to say, with the following caveats. I agree with him about post-modernism: it is a belief system that is adr ...more
Read anything by Postman. Twice. More if you're an educator.
I really like Neil Postman and his ideas and approach. This book was more just a frame for him to say some of the things he always says about the human creature, its cultural gifts and their squanderings. To me he is a very good picture of a humanist, one that I find a lot of connection and agreement with. He has a good handle on history and can take a chapter like Democracy and show that this word has meant very different things at times. He can take a chapter on children and show that this con ...more
Jan 28, 2009 Hilary rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: non-fiction, own, 2009
Neil Postman is always an incredible author. His treatise here on how the 18th Century has a great deal to offer by way of rationality in the 21st was a fascinating, and informative, read.

Neil Postman's various theses in terms of what the 21st Century looks like it will be lacking (i.e. Common Sense, Rationality, a fundamental belief in Reason and Scientific thinking) was truly prophetic of where we find ourselves today. Although we have not yet fully disposed of Childhood (one of the last chapt
Christina (Reading Thru The Night)
Building a Bridge to the 18th Century's thesis is pretty self-explanatory. Postman believes that we don't need a new future, but rather, revisit what we learned from the Enlightenment period. He suggests that "the idea of progress is one of the greatest gifts of Enlightenment" (34) and that we no longer believe that the future is moving to a golden age, as many in the past might have. Rather, we know that we are in control of our future and that scares the crap out of us.

It's interesting because
One of Postman’s best. In hopes of re-claiming the future, Postman looks back to the 1700’s and the rise of rationalism as a model for the future. Includes a wonderful exploration of post-modernism (it was a by-product of Einstein’s Theory of Relativity! Hmm... Post-modernism coming from science) and how we need to agree that while there are definitely differing points of view and voice, language can and should be used to describe the world in as realistic fashion as possible. Otherwise, we are ...more
Mike Clinton
Postman's essay consists of a series of essays - each coherent individually but more substantial read together as they're presented. It's a concise summation of a "coherent narrative" that Postman has advocated in other books. He addresses the topics of progress, technology, language, information, narratives, children, democracy, and education, suggesting the linkages among them. He celebrates the worldview of the Enlightenment and argues for its relevance as a reference point for creative and c ...more
It's okay. I've read better books on this subject. Not a total waste of time though.
I can only be "ok" because this is Postman's call to a return to the Enlightenment, the eighteenth century, the age of Hume, Locke, Jefferson and Paine, as the way forward for the future in respect of education, democracy, childhood, and technology. There are a few greta "Postman moments" (to follow).

I read it because I think "Amusing Ourselves to Death" is one of THE must-reads, in order to understand our culture. This is not in that league, and reveals aspects of Postman's worldview that chris
so far this is sooo heavy, jumps around, sentences are structured with tons of paranthesis and commas with additional thoughts, that make following original point of the sentence very difficult. I like what he has to say about technology, but do find this a very tough read.

OK - wish there was a category for "could not finish", this is the first book I've ever picked up that I haven't finished. WOW. Even Madame Bovary, while unfinished, will be finished. This one went back to the library unfinish
A thought provoking book about education, teaching, school and the influence society has had throughout time. "Teaching is a subversive act" is a favorite quote of mine. I also liked the question he poses of "was childhood discovered or invented?" My one issue is the author's "voice" seems pretentious. As if him quoting Bacon, Rousseau, Galileo and other historical figures proves his intelligence. Postman has interesting and thought proving ideas without needing to bolster his argument.
I really enjoyed this book. He discusses the importance of the enlightenment and why we should know the history of ideas.
The only thing that I did not agree with was that he implied he did not think men would help with childcare, so women who work are somehow not supposed to do so for the children's sake. Although he said it in a very non-sexist way, the meaning was clear. Other than that his ideas about how computer technology is changing the world was very interesting.
Postman ties together the themes of his other major works concerning media, education, childhood, and technology. He argues that we reflect upon the words of Enlightenment thinkers and concern ourselves with how we should live in an information-saturated age, how we should educate our children, and how we can ensure the survival of our democratic government.

An honourable effort to turn back the clock to what Postman sentimentally argues was a better time. Unfortunately the world is a different place now with the increase in technology, communication and globlalization; what worked in the 18th century is no longer practical. Better to come up with some more progressive ways that work in a post-modern world.
An argument for using the traditions and ideas of the Eighteenth Century in education. Postman sees a need to emphasize the development of the intellect and questions our reliance on technology. Reviewing the ideas of Goethe, Voltaire, Diderot, Kant and others Postman presents a provocative message.
Strange that the most important point he may have made in the book about education and technology only finally came up in the final chapter and without very much information on how he would have schools ask more questions rather than forcing students to recite answers without understanding.
Dec 05, 2008 Sheryl rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Sheryl by: It was referenced in an interview I read
Neil Postman has combined a lot of really interesting and relevant information/perspectives in his book. It's not something you can read straight through, but the chapters can be read in any order. Chapters on Technology, Education and Childhood are really interesting.
Marty Taylor
While I don't always agree with everything Postman says, his ideas are always well communicated and worthy of contemplation. He provides a much-needed and often overlooked perspective on modern American culture. A worthwhile read.
Last great Postman book, similar to "Amusing Ourselves..." but written recently enough to pertain to the World Wide Web. Postman advances his ideas on U.S. society, education, law, technology by pointing to great thinkers of the past.
Dec 01, 2007 Ike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who haven't read any Neil Postman books.
This was probably my favorite Neil Postman book so far, although it wasn't as "amusing" as some of his earlier ones. Regardless, I would recommend this book to anyone and found it very thought provoking.
Abaas Chaudhry

Good approach to considering the importance of the past to the present, with balanced argument and convincing conclusions.
I had to read this for a class and enjoyed Postman's rant about the dangers of technology. He really got me thinking.
A.J. Jr.
An important book with great ideas.
Fabulous history of the enlightenment.
If I can bring antibiotics, modern plumbing, and recorded music, I'm going!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 24 25 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Future of the Past
  • Terror and Liberalism
  • The Therapy of Desire: Theory and Practice in Hellenistic Ethics
  • The Devil Knows Latin: Why America Needs the Classical Tradition
  • The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What it Means to Be an Educated Human Being
  • Grammatical Man: Information, Entropy, Language, and Life
  • The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics
  • Family Britain, 1951-1957
  • The Paideia Proposal: An Educational Manifesto
  • The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe
  • Vikings: The North Atlantic Saga
  • The Rise of the West: A History of the Human Community
  • A History of Philosophy 4: Descartes to Leibnitz
  • The Birth of the Modern: World Society 1815-1830
  • The Bias of Communication
  • Darwin Among The Machines: The Evolution Of Global Intelligence
  • The Case for Democracy: The Power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terror
  • Boswell's Presumptuous Task: The Making of the Life of Dr. Johnson
Neil Postman, an important American educator, media theorist and cultural critic was probably best known for his popular 1985 book, Amusing Ourselves to Death. For more than four decades he was associated with New York University, where he created and led the Media Ecology program.

He is the author of more than thirty significant books on education, media criticism, and cultural change including Te
More about Neil Postman...
Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology The End of Education: Redefining the Value of School The Disappearance of Childhood Teaching as a Subversive Activity

Share This Book

“If parents wish to preserve childhood for their own children, they must conceive of parenting as an act of rebellion against culture.” 4 likes
“The opposite of a correct statement is an incorrect statement. The opposite of a profound truth is another profound truth (Niels Bohr)." By this, he means that we require a larger reading of the human past, of our relations with each other, the universe and God, a retelling of our older tales to encompass many truths and to let us grow with change.” 3 likes
More quotes…