Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple) by Jeffrey Kluger

Books are a great conversation starter.

Often, if I’m on a train, or waiting in line, somebody will look at the book I’ve got permanently tucked under one arm and ask two questions: ‘What are you reading?” followed by “What’s it about?”

With Jeffrey Kluger’s latest book, the answer to that first question is easy. Simplexity. But when it comes to trying to explain what the book is about… Well, that simple question seems alarmingly complex!

The book’s byline seems to sum it up best: ‘Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple.)

If that doesn’t answer your question – it’s doubtful anything in the book’s 336 pages will, either.

Because Simplexity is an enormously ambitious book – trying to explain the fledgling science of ‘complexity theory’ to dim-witted laymen like me. After reading Kluger’s book, I don’t think I can claim to have any greater understanding of this complicated new science – but reading the book was still one of the most enjoyable red-herrings I’ve ever undertaken.

Jeffrey Kluger is a straightforward and unpretentious writer and from page one, he tries to explain how complexity theory works through a series of real-life examples. Like how Victorian physician John Snow discovered the incredibly simple reason for a seemingly random outbreak of Cholera in 19th century London, or how predicting the outcome of incredibly complex and tactical National Football League games often comes down to simply examining and comparing past performances against other teams.

The book is crammed with fascinating anecdotal evidence. From the stock market to national security, encompassing bilingual babies and edge-of-your-seat election results, Jeffrey Kluger takes you on a fascinating journey that changes the way you think about all sorts of preconceived ‘complex’ or ‘simple’ things.

When I’d finished his enormously entertaining book, I still didn’t think I’d fully grasped the science of complexity theory – but my eyes had certainly been opened to a whole new range of ideas I’d never previously considered.

Simplexity: Why Simple Things Become Complex (and How Complex Things Can Be Made Simple) by Jeffrey Kluger is available in hardback in June, priced $25.95.


Wonderful World of Weiners said...

Piglet is simply divine! I can't believe I haven't stumbled on your blog before now! I thought I had connected with every wiener owner on the blog (how ridiculous - as if there are only a few of us!)

Love your blog - will be back!


kimmy said...

Thanks for stopping by my blog this morning! Hope you are having a great Tuesday. I would if if would just stop snowing!