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Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everythingby Joshua Foer
Synopses & Reviews
Foer's unlikely journey from chronically forgetful science journalist to U.S. Memory Champion frames a revelatory exploration of the vast, hidden impact of memory on every aspect of our lives.
On average, people squander forty days annually compensating for things they've forgotten. Joshua Foer used to be one of those people. But after a year of memory training, he found himself in the finals of the U.S. Memory Championship. Even more important, Foer found a vital truth we too often forget: In every way that matters, we are the sum of our memories.
Moonwalking with Einstein draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of memory, and venerable tricks of the mentalist's trade to transform our understanding of human remembering. Under the tutelage of top mental athletes, he learns ancient techniques once employed by Cicero to memorize his speeches and by Medieval scholars to memorize entire books. Using methods that have been largely forgotten, Foer discovers that we can all dramatically improve our memories.
Immersing himself obsessively in a quirky subculture of competitive memorizers, Foer learns to apply techniques that call on imagination as much as determination — showing that memorization can be anything but rote. From the PAO system, which converts numbers into lurid images, to the memory palace, in which memories are stored in the rooms of imaginary structures, Foer's experience shows that the World Memory Championships are less a test of memory than of perseverance and creativity.
Foer takes his inquiry well beyond the arena of mental athletes — across the country and deep into his own mind. In San Diego, he meets an affable old man with one of the most severe case of amnesia on record, where he learns that memory is at once more elusive and more reliable than we might think. In Salt Lake City, he swaps secrets with a savant who claims to have memorized more than nine thousand books. At a high school in the South Bronx, he finds a history teacher using twenty- five-hundred-year-old memory techniques to give his students an edge in the state Regents exam.
At a time when electronic devices have all but rendered our individual memories obsolete, Foer's bid to resurrect the forgotten art of remembering becomes an urgent quest. Moonwalking with Einstein brings Joshua Foer to the apex of the U.S. Memory Championship and readers to a profound appreciation of a gift we all possess but that too often slips our minds.
"His narrative is smart and funny and, like the work of Dr. Oliver Sacks, it's informed by a humanism that enables its author to place the mysteries of the brain within a larger philosophical and cultural context." Michiko Kakutani, the New York Times
"His passionate and deeply engrossing book...is a resounding tribute to the muscularity of the mind....In the end, Moonwalking with Einstein reminds us that though brain science is a wild frontier and the mechanics of memory little understood, our minds are capable of epic achievements." The Washington Post
"It's a terrific book: sometimes weird but mostly smart, funny and ultimately a lovely exploration of the ways that we preserve our lives and our world in the golden amber of human memory." Deborah Plum, New Scientist
"Joshua Foer's book...is both fun and reassuring. All it takes to have a better memory, he contends, are a few tricks and a good erotic imagination." Maureen Dowd, New York Times
"It's delightful to travel with him on this unlikely journey, and his entertaining treatment of memory as both sport and science is spot on...Moonwalking with Einstein proves uplifting: It shows that with motivation, focus and a few clever tricks, our minds can do rather extraordinary things." The Wall Street Journal
"For one year, Foer tried to attain total recall, extracting secrets from the top researchers, the real Rain Man, and the world's memory champs. He triumphed, both in his quest and in this lively account, which is, no exaggeration, unforgettable." Parade
"[An] inspired and well-written debut book about not just memorization, but about what it means to be educated and the best way to become so, about expertise in general, and about the not-so-hidden 'secrets' of acquiring skills." The Seattle Times
"In recounting his year in training for the U. S. Memory Championship, journalist Foer delivers a rich history of memory." Discover Magazine
"You have to love a writer who employs chick sexing to help explain human memory. Foer is a charmer, a crackling mind, a fresh wind. He approaches a complex topic with so much humanity, humor, and originality that you don't realize how much you're taking in and understanding. It's kind of miraculous." Mary Roach, author of Packing For Mars, Bonk, Spook, and Stiff
"Moonwalking With Einstein isn't just a splendid overview of an essential aspect of our humanity-our memory; it is also a witty and engaging account of how Foer went from being a guy with an average memory to winning the U.S. Memory Championship." Dan Ariely, author of The Upside of Irrationality and Predictably Irrational; professor of behavioral economics at Duke University.
"In this marvelous book, Joshua Foer invents a new genre of non-fiction. This is a work of science journalism wrapped around an adventure story, a bildungsroman fused to a vivid investigation of human memory. If you want to understand how we remember, and how we can all learn to remember better, then read this book." Jonah Lehrer, author of How We Decide and Proust Was a Neuroscientist; contributing editor, Wired
"Moonwalking with Einstein isn't a how-to guide to remembering a name or where you put your keys. It's a riveting exploration of humankind's centuries- old obsession with memory, and one man's improbable quest to master his own." Stefan Fatsis, author of A Few Seconds of Panic and Word Freak
The blockbuster phenomenon that charts an amazing journey of the mind while revolutionizing our concept of memory.
An instant bestseller that is poised to become a classic, Moonwalking with Einstein recounts Joshua Foer's yearlong quest to improve his memory under the tutelage of top "mental athletes." He draws on cutting-edge research, a surprising cultural history of remembering, and venerable tricks of the mentalist's trade to transform our understanding of human memory. From the United States Memory Championship to deep within the author's own mind, this is an electrifying work of journalism that reminds us that, in every way that matters, we are the sum of our memories.
About the Author
Joshua Foer was born in Washington, DC in 1982 and lives in New Haven, CT with his wife Dinah. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Esquire, Slate, Outside, the New York Times, and other publications. He is the co-founder of the Atlas Obscura, an online guide to the world's wonders and curiosities. He is also the co-founder of the architectural design competition, Sukkah City. Moonwalking with Einstein is his first book.
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