Rethink

The Surprising History of New Ideas

Rethink

An “engaging and enlightening” (The Wall Street Journal) argument that innovation and progress are often achieved by revisiting and retooling ideas from the past rather than starting from scratch—from Guardian columnist and contributor to The Atlantic, Stephen Poole.

Innovation is not always as innovative as it may seem. Rethink is the story of how old ideas that were mocked or ignored for centuries are now storming back to the cutting edge of science and technology, informing the way we lead our lives. This is the story of Lamarck and the modern-day epigeneticist whose research vindicated his mocked two hundred-year-old theory of evolution; of the return of cavalry use in the war in Afghanistan; of Tesla’s bringing back the electric car; and of the cognitive scientists who made breakthroughs by turning to ancient Greek philosophy.

“An anecdote-rich tour through the centuries” (The New York Times), with examples from business to philosophy to science, Rethink shows what we can learn by revisiting old, discarded ideas and considering them from a novel perspective. From within all these rich anecdotes of overlooked ideas come good ones, helping us find new ways to think about ideas in our own time—including out-of-the-box proposals in the boardroom to grand projects for social and political change.

“Clever and entertaining...a thoughtful and thought-provoking book” (The Sunday Times, London), Rethink helps you see the world differently. Armed with this picture of the surprising evolution of ideas and their triumphant second lives, and in the bestselling tradition of Malcolm Gladwell, Poole’s new approach to a familiar topic is fun, convincing, and brilliant—and offers a clear takeaway: if you want to affect the future, start by taking a look at the past.
  • Scribner | 
  • 352 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781501145612 | 
  • November 2017
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About the Author

Steven Poole
Photograph by Chris Vincze

Steven Poole

Steven Poole is the award-winning author of Rethink, Unspeak, Trigger Happy, You Aren’t What You Eat, and Who Touched Base In My Thought Shower?. He writes a column on language for The Guardian, and his work on ideas and culture also appears in The Wall Street Journal, The New Statesman, The Atlantic, The Baffler, The Point, The Times Literary Supplement, Edge, and many other publications. He was educated at Cambridge, lived for many years in Paris, and is now based in East London.

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