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Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything [Hardcover]

Joshua Foer
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 8 2011 159420229X 978-1594202292 1st Edition

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.

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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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Rule 62 Ken TOP 500 REVIEWER
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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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good as far as it goes, but could go farther April 5 2011
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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Talent vs Training Sept. 3 2011
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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting read. June 18 2011
I completely enjoyed "Moonwalking with Einstein". But I think some people (including the extremely Negative Nelly who gave this book a 2 out of 5), may pick up this book looking for ways to cheat their way to an unbeatable memory. If you are one of those people, don't buy this book. More than anything it's about one man's journey into the underground world of memory championships, which is filled with truly fascinating characters. By no means are any of these people "losers". They are interesting and compelling individuals who each try to push their memory to it's limit. Foer's adventure was compelling and intriguing and I was totally hooked. I finished this book within 3 days. I simply couldn't put it down!

There are memory tricks in the book which are explained with much detail and, I must say, do really work! However, they require a great deal of time to hone and implement. I definitely don't think that simple memory tricks were the inteded purpose of this book, and to me, that wasn't the most interesting part of the story. What I did love was how this book offers a unique view into a world most of us have never heard of before. Foer does a great job of describing the strange and fascinating world of the memory olympics!
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Well happy with way the author delivers thoughts; enjoyed reading it.
Published 10 days ago by Alexander Dymov
5.0 out of 5 stars Good introduction to memory techniques
This book really gives you insights and motivation to go more in depth in memorization techniques as well as there limitations.
Published 7 months ago by Jamie H
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
Very good mix of recounting his story with side tangents that help to further educate the reader, definitely worth reading!
Published 10 months ago by Craig
2.0 out of 5 stars Moonwalking
I expected a different book, more info on how to remember. Not quite through the book. but will finish it.
Published 13 months ago by Frank Nuspel
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent tour through the garden path of memory
I quite enjoyed reading this text because the author went on a mnemonic pilgrimage himself, personally interviewed many people involved in competitive mnemonics, as well as... Read more
Published 13 months ago by Matthew Millard
4.0 out of 5 stars so helpful
I started reading this book before my PMP exam and used some of the techniques to remember key things for the test. I passed and I'm pretty sure this book helped. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Mel
4.0 out of 5 stars Read this book
A very thought provoking book on memory, It may change the way you think of your ability to remember. Written in an easy to read fashion.
Published 22 months ago by Robert Van Tol
4.0 out of 5 stars Help for short term memory loss
I bought 3 copies one for a friend and another for a relative having short term memory loss and myself as curiosity
Published 22 months ago by Patricia Miller
4.0 out of 5 stars Funny, intelligent, thought provoking book on memory
I read this book to get inspired on how to be more intentional about memorization and appreciated the effort the author put into examining history and methods that have been used... Read more
Published 23 months ago by Cherisse Bank
5.0 out of 5 stars I do have a memory!
if you think you are losing your memory or have never had a good memory - buy this book and try some of the suggestions!! You will be pleasantly surprised!
Published on June 11 2012 by Kim
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