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Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything Hardcover – Mar 3 2011

26 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Press; 1st Edition edition (March 3 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159420229X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594202292
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 2.9 x 24.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #37,875 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Amazon Best Books of the Month, March 2011: Moonwalking with Einstein follows Joshua Foer's compelling journey as a participant in the U.S. Memory Championship. As a science journalist covering the competition, Foer became captivated by the secrets of the competitors, like how the current world memory champion, Ben Pridmore, could memorize the exact order of 1,528 digits in an hour. He met with individuals whose memories are truly unique—from one man whose memory only extends back to his most recent thought, to another who can memorize complex mathematical formulas without knowing any math. Brains remember visual imagery but have a harder time with other information, like lists, and so with the help of experts, Foer learned how to transform the kinds of memories he forgot into the kind his brain remembered naturally. The techniques he mastered made it easier to remember information, and Foer's story demonstrates that the tricks of the masters are accessible to anyone.
--Miriam Landis


"Absolutely phenomenal... Part of the beauty of this book is that it makes clear how memory and understanding are not two different things. Building up the ability to reason and the ability to retain information go hand in hand... The book reminds us that we all start off with pretty much the same tools for the most part, and we can be intentional about strengthening them, or not."
—Bill Gates

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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Rule 62 Ken TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 29 2012
Format: Paperback
Who knew that there were international memory championships and that reading about them could be so interesting? In Moonwalking With Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, author Joshua Foer writes about how he went from being an internet journalist assigned to cover this event to becoming a competitor in one, one year later. This is one of the most interesting accounts of participatory journalism ever told. But the book is much much more than this. In between the continuing tale of how the author first becomes exposed to this unique competition, how he befriends several of the competitors, is seen as a curious annoyance to others, how he is mentored and trained, how he actually trains for the competition, culminating in his competing in the American Memory Championships, Foer weaves in many pieces of interesting information. These include the techniques actually used to improve memory and to memorize vast chunks of information, a user-friendly explanation of the physiology and neurology of memory, the history of mnemonics beginning with the Greek Poet Simonedes of Ceos (who, according to legend, was able to recall the names and seating plan for all the attendees of a banquet hall suffering a roof collapse), the difference between remembering words and remembering images, profiles of those who have exploited memory techniques for personal gain and those who haven't, a wonderful discussion about the place of memorization in education, a profile of an inner city school utilizing memorization to improve the performance of its students, as well as interviews with some of the interesting personalities in the world of memory.Read more ›
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stian Haklev on Nov. 27 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is absolutely not a self-help book on how to improve your memory, but it's a fun and compelling read, with some very thought-provoking ideas. The descriptions of the various events, the people involved, and the author's own journey is very compelling. Apart from that, some of the ideas introduced in the book, looking at the role and meaning of education in relation to memory for example, were really interesting to me. They were not probed particularly deeply in the book, but it is something I definitively want to look further into, and this was a great start. The demonstration of how the techniques work are great, but some of the examples are bit overly detailed.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Anastasia Prozorova on Sept. 3 2011
Format: Hardcover
Although the book is in no way an exhaustive scientific research on memory and mnemonics, it touches on an interesting topic. Is there such a thing as an inborn talent or genius? Or is it something that any human can train and develop? After conducting an interesting and fun field experience, the author seems to be more inclined to believe that memory capacity and recollection genius are something that anyone can train and develop. On the other hand, the author also gives a couple of neurological examples on extreme human memory capacities that seem to be inborn and have more to do with physiology than conscious training efforts. The weakness of the books is that the author never gets more into details on the topic of memory, but it still can serve as an exciting, fun, and contemporary introduction into the world of memory training.

I particularly liked the chapter on the so-called OK-plateau. It is true that apart from the neurological disorders and accidents that could slow down our memory capacities, our simple human tendency to be lazy is also to blame.

In any case, the book is fun to read and lets you want to read further into the topic...
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Brian Campbell on April 5 2011
Format: Hardcover
This book is well-written and researched -- indeed, it's one of the most outstanding examples of participatory journalism I've come across. Its chief value for me is that it contains lively and well-informed discussions of memory techniques which have been lost to our culture through the ages; however,the chapter "How to Memorize a Poem" -- the main reason I bought this book, and ditto for songs, my rote memory being frustratingly porous for these things -- did not live up to its billing. It's hard to imagine applying "Memory Palace" techniques to material that already contains its own "mental landscape": wouldn't they interfere with each other? What do you associate with each room, a word or a phrase or a stanza? He ends that chapter with the strange and discouraging assertion that poetry is among the more difficult things to remember using these techniques -- and yet, wasn't that one of the main purposes of memory techniques in times past? This book did make me interested in other writings that might elucidate the process or memorizing verbal material better. One I'd recommend is "By Heart -- 101 poems to remember" edited with an introduction by Ted Hughes. That short introduction does far more to clarify the process than this book. I perhaps wouldn't have found value in that book, though, without having my curiosity piqued by this one. It's been on my bookshelves for years; only now may I make use of it.
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Format: Hardcover
Joshua Foer recounts his journey as an average guy with an average memory who, in one year, becomes the US Memory Champion. Along the way he meets a variety of interesting, eccentric and other-worldly characters who train diligently to memorize decks of cards, lists of names, random numbers and obscure poetry. Mr. Foer is a skilled journalist who immersed himself in the topic to give the reader an inside look at the world of mnemonists. His narrative is complemented by research into the human mind and the forgotten role that memorization played in the lives of people before books became repositories of our memories. Don't read this book expecting to learn how to improve your memory, although there are overviews of techniques that can be employed. If anything, it will encourage you to learn more about the topic. However, Mr. Foer demonstrates that, with practice, anyone can learn to improve one's memory for specific tasks, like memorizing a shopping list. But improving one's overall memory is a different manner. At the end of it all, even this US memory champ forgot where he left his car keys. All in all, Moonwalking with Einstein is an enjoyable read.
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