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Critical Path

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  948 ratings  ·  75 reviews
R. Buckminster Fuller is regarded as one of the most important figures of the 20th century, renowned for his achievements as an inventor, designer, architect, philosopher, mathematician, and dogged individualist. Perhaps best remembered for the Geodesic Dome and the term "Spaceship Earth," his work and his writings have had a profound impact on modern life and thought.

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Paperback, 471 pages
Published February 15th 1982 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published 1981)
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aneurysm1985
Jan 28, 2015 rated it liked it
The title of Buckminster Fuller's classic late-life book Critical Path is inspired by the Apollo Project. Bucky estimated that in order for Apollo 11 to successfully launch, land on the moon, and return to Earth, the engineers had to follow a "critical path" of approximately 2,000,000 tasks that had to be completed in correct sequence. Bucky felt that humanity has its own "critical path" program that must be followed to avoid war, and to create a peaceful and sustainable existence on Spaceship E ...more
Andrea
May 22, 2010 marked it as to-read
The man is brilliant, he is blowing my mind. I'm in totally over my head with this book. I haven't the faintest idea what he is talking about half the time, however I'm trying to stretch and understand, even if just a little. He included the most amazing poem in the introduction written by e e cummings.
Dan
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science
After 20 years, I finally managed to finish this book. It's a difficult book to stick with and in it Bucky truly presented some unique and original ideas on the history of civilization, wealth, government and ecology and he was definitely well ahead of his time. I wonder what he would think of the past 30 years since this book was written if he were still around with the recent economic meltdown, the rise of a limited free market China, the demise of the Soviet Union, and the explosion of extrem ...more
Chris
Jan 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
R. Buckminster Fuller published this, his last major work, in 1981. This book provides a general overview of his life, and collects together his writings about a number of projects that helped bring his work to prominence, including his geodesic domes, his World Game exercises, as well as covering various aspects of world history and social organization and development. Written in a unique voice that is sometimes difficult to follow, this book is worth it just for insight into his biggest and mo ...more
Max Nova
Nov 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Oh Buckminster. You are a character. This has got to be one of the densest, most made-up-word-filled, self-aggrandizing, and brilliant books I have ever read. Instead of trying to summarize the approximately 3-bajillion things Fuller talks about, it's better if I just describe his unique perspective. Born in like 1895, he dropped out of Harvard (before it was cool) and basically devoted his life to trying to make things better for humanity through a "design-engineering revolution". His central t ...more
Anita
Mar 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a seminal experience in forming my thinking, and making me the person I am...(to those who know me well, read it anyway, LOL.)
Fuller has such a unique and original way of looking at things, that it blows the dust right out of your brain. All kinds of assumptions that you didn't even know you'd made get completely exposed, and replaced by real reasoning. He invites you to make up your own completely refreshed mind, and look at things without the blinkers on. In my opinion, that is b
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andrew
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
this was the most depressing book i have ever read. it is so full of so many amazing ideas that would greatly enhance human life and repair so much of what humans have done to their environment, pretty much everything in this book makes perfect sense. the depressing part you ask? this book was written 30 years ago and virtually none of these ideas are being used and i fear they never will be.
Abner Rosenweig
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was my first encounter with the renowned R. Buckminster Fuller, and during the course of the book, with its odd abstract coinages and grand schemes, I frequently found myself debating the man's sanity. Sometimes he appears to be raving like a mad man, other times he is blindingly brilliant. I emerged with the belief that RBF was indeed sane, an archetypal genius engineer in the tradition of Archimedes and Da Vinci, and an inspiring, visionary character to boot. He was an odd duck, sure, but ...more
Marcelo Yáñez
Mar 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
There's a lot of stuff that is dated and sounds ridiculous. Once you get past it, the book has the potential to profoundly change your mind. Just get into it.

Bucky changes perception. I don't think the same way about the world after this.
Nathanael
Oct 16, 2012 rated it it was ok
I had a mixed reaction to this book. A few chapters were fascinating and provided me new perspectives on the world, but most were rambling and incomprehensible (to me at least). My main takeaway is that R Buckminster Fuller was a really smart guy, but didn't put much effort into making his ideas accessible to others.
Dickson Lai
Sep 09, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A master piece. Never miss this and must read as a group.
Leect27
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It is my first book on Buckminster Fuller and it took me a long time to complete my 1st read of the book. 1st read because I realize I will have to re-read it many times to fully comprehend "Bucky's"wisdom. I get to read this because it is a recommended read from the program that I attended, Money & You.
I am amazed by how Bucky was able to see the big picture and see beyond what most people could not see. He is truly a visionary. His ideas and inventions are so out of his time, that the populati
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Richard Buro
Mar 26, 2019 added it
Recommends it for: the brightest students and MENSA members only.
Recommended to Richard by: L. Fletcher Prouty
The short version first...

The author of the work being reviewed was R. Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller's final work. He was a phenomenon of the late 19th and 20th centuries. An author of over 80 books, Fuller was also a prolific inventor, thinker, and creator of unique and specialized designs of things that might make humanity a bit better over the course of a lifetime. His greatest claim to fame was probably the geodesic dome, many of which are still viewable even now over three decades after his p
...more
Partha
Sep 14, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: this book just broadens one's horizons
Buckminster Fuller was one of the greatest inventor,architect, designer and Philosopher United States of America ever had..

Fuller's deep insight and understanding into varied subjects ranging from astronomy to physics to zen philosopy has helped him weave a beautiful story on the history of time and evolution..

He corrobarates the theory that our ancient Indian civilization consisting of traders who traveled in ships to other shores for business had indeed actually prior knowledge of mathematics,
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Dianne
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you don't know who Buckminster Fuller is then you should learn a bit more about him. This book is/was a heavy read (like you actually have to think about what you just read).
I would read a page and then start thinking about what he wrote and then put the book down because sometimes it would give me a "Mr. Spock" moment where it was so logical and clear all the b.s. that we've been brainwashed with....I had to seriously ponder it, then read it again.
There were times I thought he's so brillia
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Thomas
Dec 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Buckminster Fuller is most definitely a visionary thinker, well before his time. I love his awareness of inventions in relation to time. He has a very engineering centric historical view of the world.

His writing is often over-omni-adjective-heavy-made-up-word-what-the-heck-is-he-talking-about.

I feel like the book could have been about 1/3 the length and had all of the information. My critique here is mainly of the writing, not the ideas presented therein, which I found to be extremely interestin
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Paul Bond
May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: reviewed
Buckminster Fuller was far-sighted, literally. He had no problem discerning objects at a distance, but had trouble seeing up close. His books, capped by CRITICAL PATH, mirror this strength and weakness. Bucky is undoubtedly right that the best future is one approached through rigorous application of critical design principles. But, given the society around us, how do we bring those principles into currency? Ultimately, Fuller's path to progress doesn't seem to lead through human nature or instit ...more
Alex
This is a monumental book. The scope of the content is incredibly vast both in terms of topic area and history covered, and the language of the text itself is structured in such a way as to encode a great deal of meaning in each sentence, though this requires some additional time to unpack (and more than occasional re-reading). Very much worth the effort, though - considered either from an historical perspective or for the ideas in themselves, there is a tremendous amount of insight into systems ...more
Eric Phetteplace
Nov 24, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosophy
I agree with Fuller's basic, all-one-humanity paradigm and like his crazy stylistic ticks (including using the prefix omni a whole lot) but there were a ton of wholes in this book and a lot of arguments which were cool the first time get repeated over and over. Perhaps a bit too starry-eyed optimist. There's a reason why most of his designs never made it, and it's because a "design revolution" doesn't automatically get produced just because it's better, the production authorities have to finance ...more
D.C. Musgrove
Oct 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Buckminster Fuller is an ecclectic genius who wrote a number of books, but in my opinion, none so seminal a work as Critical Path. It used to be a textbook and required reading at college level. Anyone would benefit from Fuller's research and recounting of the origins of commerce, trade and even city-states that grew up along ancient trade routes. How early inventions, one built upon the next, led to a steady path forward for civilization is a fascinating review of human history in the making.
Andrew Bourne
Jan 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
What an odd man. What a hopeless utopian, but what a trailblazer, what a mind! If the way he writes, his diction, syntax, and neologisms, not to mention content are what they are, and they certainly are aren't they, then we are dealing with someone who is profoundly disassociated from the majority. I don't see how he could have tied his shoes, or hold a conversation!

Plain Bizarre. Zween Bizef!
Alan Hoffman
All of his fascinating ideas and inventions might not have worked, but he seems always to be heading in the right direction, so focused on mixing the practical and the big picture .



Sting, in his album Nothing like the Sun, recommends the opening of this book in his liner notes, for its short take on people's motivations in history.



He does, however have an idiosyncratic way of sometimes stringing words and phrases together.
Jess
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was ok
This was just too much for me, and I ended up reading only a small amount of it. I was really interested at the outset, but the convoluted language in which it is written and some of the absolutely bizarre ideas posited (for example that there was some sort of reverse evolution in which porpoises and whales evolved from humans) turned me off. I found it extremely difficult to follow and understand at all what he was talking about most of the time.
Terry
Jul 16, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
The author of this book is a genius but finds it difficult to express ideas in a simple manner. It is an inspiring work that examines why there is such a disparity between the haves and have nots of the world, and what can be done so that everyone lives at an adequate standard of living. Bucky practiced many disciplines in his long lifetime, and this book shows that the information age is a good place to take advantage of our information wealth. Difficult reading, but very worthwhile.
Keith
May 10, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Bucky Fullers writing style is painful at times. Even reading a few pages can force you to put down any of his books and give serious thoughts to his ideas. Critical path is a summary of how each person can change his/her immediate reality and in fold force change within the world. This mans ideas should be serious studied by all. Even if you do not agree you are bound to walk away smarter for the deliberation.
Alan Cunningham
Again, did not read this so much as pulled out the good bits.

Fuller, like Tasseb after him, is a genius in love with the tone of his writing and achievements. I had to get past the dross of that to get the good stuff. The description of the lead up to the Great Depression was enthralling, and the timeline at the back satisfying. The first chapter was annoying, but I have a thing about latin prefixes.
Louis
Oct 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
This is a mind opening and neural pathway creating book. It is futuristic and scientifically based and has incredible optimism on energy and how much we have and have not even begun to to tap. It is a very enlightening and I believe true account of history.
I am only a quarter of the way through but love it.
Now more than halfway but still impressing me with a future vision that leads toward stability and sustainability for all of humanity.
Kelly
Sep 15, 2015 rated it really liked it
My second favorite Fuller book (next to I Seem to Be A Verb). Outlines most extensively his vision for how we can apply the Earth's current resources plus humanities knowledge and intellect to give all of humanity a high standard of living. This book is full of many insights and ideas, which unfortunately, have not and may not in the future be applied.
Amber
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: art-ish
Brilliant but has no intuitional concept of humans. Some of his concepts are original and useful, but some of them are unconscious and horrific products of White Male Privilege written at a time when that privilege went almost completely without self or other Criticism. Ironic for a book called Critical Path.
Mark Siegmund
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
a wonderful compendium of Bucky's views on and about our Spaceship Earth
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Richard Buckminster "Bucky" Fuller was an American architect, systems theorist, author, designer, and inventor.

Fuller published more than 30 books, coining or popularizing terms such as "Spaceship Earth", ephemeralization, and synergetic. He also developed numerous inventions, mainly architectural designs, and popularized the widely known geodesic dome. Carbon molecules known as fullerenes were la
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