Greg Pettit's Reviews > The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-Line Pioneers

The Victorian Internet by Tom Standage
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's review
May 20, 2009

liked it
bookshelves: library, non-fiction
Read in May, 2009

Another shallow, quick, interesting read. I enjoyed this light history of the telegraph, and there certainly were interesting parallels with the Internet. However, there also seemed to be several gaps in the narrative.

For the most part, I liked how Standage simplified his description of the development and evolution of telegraphy. The early pre-electric history and problem-solving stories were particularly interesting. But with all the detail put into explaining some solutions, it was frustrating when he didn't do the same with others. For example, there were only a couple of sentences briefly mentioning how the problem of sending over great distances was resolved.

Overall, I'd still recommend it for anyone interested in communication in this time period. Like the other Standage book I've read, A History of the World in 6 Glasses, it is a great starting place likely to whet your appetite for a more in-depth book.
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message 1: by Mark (new) - added it

Mark Interesting, I'll look for this one. Last year I read a book about how the telegraph made Lincoln an active commander-in-chief during the Civil War. Unlike all previous Presidents, he now had near-instant military information, and he read the reports directly from the War Department telegraph room to receive quicker & less-filtered information. He also sent a lot of direct orders that same way.

In the end, I felt the book didn't live up to its interesting subject. Maybe another author will take it up some day.

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