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Sex, Bombs And Burgers: How War, Porn And Fast Food Created Technology As We Know It

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3.63  ·  Rating Details ·  234 Ratings  ·  34 Reviews
War, porn and fast food - these are three of the most maligned facets of our civilization, and rightly so - war is responsible for untold human suffering and death; porn is often deemed responsible for everything from marital infidelity to the erosion of society's morals; and fast food, meanwhile, is frequently blamed for rising obesity levels, not to mention the increasin ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Viking Canada (first published January 1st 2010)
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Melki
Aug 28, 2014 Melki rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"When you're at war, you think about a better life. When you're at peace, you think about a more comfortable one." ~ Thornton Wilder



Be ye a hawk or a dove, there's no denying that we owe a massive amount of our technology to the military OR companies contracted to work for the military.

Your microwave? - A British military scientist invented its technology by accident while trying to devise a death ray to blow up enemy planets.

Your handheld video recorder? - Developed by the military in World W
...more
David Sarkies
Aug 07, 2011 David Sarkies rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology
A Story of Modern Technology
29 August 2011 - Berlin

I do actually like non-fiction books and found this one very interesting. In fact I actually agree with his conclusions (though many people will probably baulk at them). His idea is that the technology that we have today has been developed through what he considers three bad things: war, porn, and fast food. While I do not consider food to be a bad industry in itself (and would even consider investing in it), I do find that war and porn are. Ho
...more
Justin
Jan 03, 2012 Justin rated it really liked it
I've wanted to read this since I saw an interview w/ Nowak on Stombo's CBC show (damn no longer living in Seattle and having access to CBC and Strombo!) but America took awhile to get this across the border.

Unlike Eric Schlosser's Reefer Madness, which is written in Schlosser's demur Eeyore outlook, Nowak delivers a very even-keeled and well-thought out dissection of food, sex, and war as the three primal urges that have driven innovation, invention, and technology through the 20th and 21st Cen
...more
Quentin Debode
The subtitle of this book is: “How War, Porn and Fast Food Created Technology as We Know It”, which perfectly describes this enjoyable geeky read.

Let’s start with a simple example so you’ll get the feeling of what this book is about: Where does the idea of making a microwave come from? Simple: A British military scientist invented its technology by accident while trying to devise a death ray to blow up enemy planes. Here’s another example: Where does your video camera come from? Well, it was dev
...more
Lukáš Palán
Knížka o tom, že díky válkám máme lepší burgery a porno. Já tedy nemůžu jinak, než poděkovat všem padlým ve II. světové válce, kteří svou obětí pomohli vytvořit HD verzi PornHubu a Bageterii Boulevard.
Faris Moalmi
Aug 05, 2011 Faris Moalmi rated it liked it
The book is quite interesting as a factual historical look at the evolution of sex, bombs, and burgers and interrelatedness of the three. It was a bit confusing at times simply because of the arrangement of the topics discussed. The author at times jumped back and forth in time and between topics. There was also some repetitiveness in some of the topics discussed.
It was a good read though. interesting and enlightening.
Iang95ify .
Oct 29, 2015 Iang95ify . rated it really liked it
Showed how computer games are influencing the soldiers of today, how porn has driven computer technology from developing jpg images to driving the growth of CDs and the internet. Looks into the industrialisation of food production and reflects that our most primal desires like sex drives our technological progress. Sex dolls will be part of our future.
Luisa
Aug 16, 2012 Luisa rated it it was amazing
Most interesting; full of "food for thoughts". A must read.
متعلم على سبيل النجاة
الجنس، والقنابل والبرغر.. ثلاث من أبرز ملامح الحضارة الأمريكيّة الحديثة، وهو أيضاً عنوان لكتاب، الجنس، والقنابل والبرغر: كيف شكّلت الحرب، والمواد الإباحيّة والوجبات السريعة التكنلوجيا بالطريقة التي باتت عليها اليوم. مؤلّف الكتاب پيتر نواك، صاحب ولع كبير بالتقنية منذ صغره، تتبّع في كتابه هذا الكثير من المظاهر التقنيّة التي باتت جزءاً من حياتنا اليوميّة ليُظهر وبنحو باعث على الدهشة أنّ معظم إن لم يكن كل ما يقع تحت نواظرنا من الأجهزة التقنيّة يرجع في الأصل إلى ثلاث نزعات: الأكل، والصراع، والجنس. ال ...more
Nyssa
Jan 01, 2013 Nyssa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sex, Bombs and Burgers is a fascinating look into how our obsessions with war, fast food and porn have evolved our everyday technology rapidly over the 20th/21st century. WW2 affected how we cook and preserve food, porn changed the video versus betamax war, and genetically modified foods are seen by some as a way of waging war and reducing the desire in third world countries to join terrorist cells. While detailed, the book doesn’t require prior knowledge of science or engineering, as it explore ...more
Israel
May 20, 2015 Israel rated it liked it
World War Two spurred all the innovation we've all become comfortable with over the last sixty some odd years or so. If you read that statement and nodded your head yes then you should read Sex, Bombs, and Burgers. I chose to read this book because I saw the subject matter in the same vein as Fast Food Nation but the difference between the two is the personal in depth narrative.

Sex, Bombs and Burgers simply lacks the personal narrative to really drive the author's point home. That isn't to say
...more
Guy Grobler
Aug 04, 2011 Guy Grobler rated it liked it
The book is a nice chronological review of how three human vices (or in other words our preoccupation with War, Sex and Food) have driven technological breakthroughs. This book a perfect introduction book to anyone who likes technology but has no idea where it comes from and who's developed it. However, As someone who likes gadgets and who enjoys reading, I have to say that the book didn't give me any new insights, most of what was written I either already knew or was not surprised that much to ...more
Nathan
Jan 02, 2012 Nathan rated it liked it
A fairly casual skipping over the surface review of western technological advances since the War, and how most of them (or at least of those the author deigns to mention) stem from, or were developed by, the military, food business or adult entertainment.

An entertaining and easy read (it is one of those non-fiction books written by a jobbing journalist), but one suspects the content will seem very dated in a 'Beyond 2000' kind of way very quickly.

I think he is absolutely on the money in what he
...more
Lars Williams
Aug 12, 2012 Lars Williams rated it liked it


An enjoyable, geeky read. The premise - that most advances in technology are driven by the military, or fast food and porn industries - is reasonable, though at times seems a little overstretched. A more honest title for the book would have been 'some cool gadgets and how they came to be', but I accept that rather lacks the punch of 'sex, bombs and burgers'. Still, very interesting nevertheless, and written in a nice, journalistic style that kept my interest up. Best on older technology (eg mic
...more
Oscar Romero
Jan 06, 2016 Oscar Romero rated it it was amazing
A most excellent and interesting read! I was quite surprised to find out about where things and products really come from and or why they were created, by whom and how these same product evolved to where they are now...like the all common microwave oven.

It was quite insightful as well to see how the government helped develop these many products as well...and the fact that most items do move from the military on to the everyday consumer. A strong recommendation for everyone to read and learn to
...more
H Wesselius
Although the book occasionally becomes merely a listing of inventions brought to you by war and porn, it keeps the reader's interest. Read it if only to understand how well integrated the military, government and business became in the US and for the chapter in which the author details how the middle east has become a living laboratory for all the new toys produced by the military. The complete integration of business, military and gov't in the US compared to the Soviet Union is astounding espec ...more
John Brooke
May 05, 2012 John Brooke rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reportage
This is a well written and researched pile of hubris of the United States military domestic spin-offs that justify destroying other cultures. The positive spin-off are Micro Wave Ovens and Retort Pouch Food and other anti-natural wonders

Clearly written and a great warning to humans who still cling to the natural order of living on this wonderful blue planet, that is changing radically thanks to the stupidity of wrongfully applied science.

All the wrong thinking about our planet is succinctly summ
...more
Scotchneat
Jan 02, 2011 Scotchneat rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
An unusual choice of book to take to Israel, but that's what I did.

Writing style is a bit academic or formal or something, so it wasn't as entertaining as it might have been, but I still enjoyed the read and learned a bit along the way.

I don't think it's a shock to know that much innovation, especially in technology is driven by lust, anger and hunger. Still, the innovation of freeze-dried food in the space age is an interesting read, as is the connection between better porn and robotic limbs (C
...more
Jeb
Jan 29, 2017 Jeb rated it really liked it
This is one of those, 'history your probably don't know,' books. I'm not always into reading these kinds of things. But, occasionally, they scratch the itch. Nowak's book is particularly good at scratching that itch by drawing you into the discovery (accidental or intentional) and then describing the story to success and the overall, societal impact.

You don't have to read the book cover to cover. The discoveries are pretty insular, so, you can read at your own pace, when you're bored with anothe
...more
Paul Cowan
Mar 31, 2012 Paul Cowan rated it liked it
Pretty bog-standard 'pop science' book, exploring how much of modern technology comes from one of three motivations: war, food, and sex. Like most 'pop science' books, it sometimes feels a little bit handwavey (random predictions presented as inevitable, hypotheses on motivations and causes presented as fact, etc). That said, it's entertaining, thought-provoking and well-written. Can't really complain.
Dark
Sep 03, 2015 Dark rated it liked it
You will be surprised to see how some of the most fascinating technology we use everyday originated, sometimes(ahem) from needs you do not want to discuss. The storytelling is good, however, at places it becomes too much technical and focused on the technology itself rather than the relation between the factors(sex/bomb/burger) and the technology itself.
Tony Scott
Jan 11, 2015 Tony Scott rated it it was amazing
Heard about the book on CBC radio when the author was interviewed. It intrigued me so I went looking for it, and the search was rewarded. An absolutely excellent read!

Draws connections that I had never before thought about.

Highly recommended!
Matt
Jan 06, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it
One word: teledildonics.

Interesting read of how much of what we take for granted on a daily basis, from the internet to video games to plastics, were all created for other reasons in the war, porn and fast food industries.
Jeff
Aug 17, 2012 Jeff rated it it was amazing
This is a great read. It is very interesting seeing how much of our life comes from the roots of Porn, War and Fast Food. It was also very interesting to see the relationships between the three items themselves.
Science For The People
Featured on Skeptically Speaking show #168 on June 10, 2012, during an interview with author Peter Nowak. http://skepticallyspeaking.ca/episode...
Jennifer
Jun 28, 2014 Jennifer rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Fascinating look at the development of modern technology. If you want to know where plastic came from or what robots the military is currently bringing out, this is definitely worth a read.
Fugen
Sep 21, 2012 Fugen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
kind of like freakanomics, but not as fleshed out.
Baal Of
Apr 06, 2013 Baal Of rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
The title of the book is accurate. This is a fun, interesting, quick, pop-science read.
Patrick Lum
Very interesting information about a tonne of areas, but I can't help but feel that it all felt rather shallow - a light look across a lot of areas, but nothing super in-depth.
Graeme Wilson
Nov 21, 2010 Graeme Wilson rated it liked it
was a good book that purely focused on the tech rather than some of the politics that occured
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9300376
Peter Nowak is an award-winning journalist and best-selling author based in Toronto. He has been writing about technology and pop culture since 1997 for publications including the Boston Globe, Sydney Morning Herald, The Globe and Mail and New Scientist magazine.

His first book, "Sex, Bombs and Burgers," was published in six countries. His syndicated blog can be found at Alphabeatic.com.
More about Peter Nowak...

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