How We Got to Now is a reasonably entertaining and easy to read survey of six topics which shaped the world we live in now, in various ways. The main benefit is that Johnson tries to look across disciplines and from different angles, and tries to capture the whole of the picture. The six topics he picked make sense: glass, (artificial) cold, (the understanding of) sound, hygiene, time (and the accuracy thereof) and (artificial) light — they’re summarised under six headings: glass, cold, sound, clean, time, light. That does sound a little odd with the title, since sound is hardly something we invented. Nonetheless, he makes good points about the way science and technology surrounding those topics has made our modern lives what they are.
Not world-shattering, but entertaining enough!