Book Cover Published 2007

Twin Tracks: The Unexpected Origins of the Modern World

Twin Tracks is a landmark book of real-world stories that investigates the nature of change and divines as never before the unlikely origins of many aspects of contemporary life. In each of the work's twenty-five narratives, we discover how the different outcomes of an important historical event in the past often come together again in the future.
Twin Tracks pinpoints the myriad ways the future is shaped, whether by love, war, accident, genius, or discovery. Wonderfully accessible and lucidly written, Twin Tracks offers an amusing and instructive new view of the past and the future.

Book Cover Published 2000

The Knowledge Web: From Electronic Agents to Stonehenge and Back -- And Other Journeys Through Knowledge

The Knowledge Web is a fascinating tour through the interlocking threads of knowledge running through Western history. It shows how seemingly unrelated ideas and innovations bounce off one another, spinning a vast, interactive web on which everything is connected to everything else: Carmen leads to the theory of relativity, champagne bottling links to wallpaper design, Joan of Arc connects through vaudeville to Buffalo Bill.

Book Cover Published July 2007

American Connections: The Founding Fathers Networked.

From Booklist: "The latest in Burke's Connections brand links every signer of the Declaration of Independence with a contemporary namesake. [His] irreverent, caffeinated prose is again on display as he reduces the pledgers of "Our Lives, Our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor,' into pithy summaries of their crasser concerns, such as smuggling. Then off [he] goes in pursuit of their modern counterparts.... Leave it to Burke's encyclopedic mind to meet that challenge."

Book Cover Published 2003

Inventing Modern America: From the Microwave to the Mouse

Inventing Modern America profiles thirty-five inventors who exemplify the rich technological creativity of the United States over the past century. The range of their contributions is broad. They have helped transform our homes, our healthcare, our work, our environment, and the way we travel and communicate.The inventors profiled include such well-known figures as George Washington Carver, Henry Ford, and Steve Wozniak, as well as unsung technological pioneers such as Stephanie Kwolek, inventor of Kevlar, and Wilson Greatbatch, inventor of the first implantable cardiac pacemaker.Inventing Modern America is designed to create excitement about invention through the personal stories of these American scientists, technologists, and researchers. It is accessible enough to engage high school students yet wide-ranging and interesting enough to appeal to anyone who has ever wondered where microwave ovens and traffic lights come from.The book was developed by the Lemelson-MIT Program for Invention and Innovation, whose mission is to inspire a new generation of American scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs.

Book Cover Published 2003

Circles: Fifty Roundtrips Through History Technology Science Culture

Circles is a collection of fifty mesmerizing journeys into the history of technology, each following a chain of consequential events that ends precisely where it began. Whether exploring electromagnetic fields, the origin of hot chocolate, or DNA fingerprinting, these essays -- which originally appeared in James Burke's popular Scientific American column -- all illustrate the serendipitous and surprisingly circular nature of change.

Book Cover Published 2007


In Connections, James Burke examines the ideas, inventions and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological advances of today. He untangles the pattern of interconnecting events, the accidents of time, circumstance and place that gave rise to major inventions of the world.

Book Cover Published 1997

The Pinball Effect: How Renaissance Water Gardens Made the Carburetor Possible

With The Pinball Effect, James Burke breaks from this traditional Balkanization of knowledge, cause, and effect. He follows ideas, inventions, and consequences as they ricochet dizzyingly like pinballs on the billiard table of history.

Book Cover Published 1985

The Day the Universe Changed

"At any time in the past," says James Burke, "people have held a view of the way the universe works which was for them definitive, whether it was based on myths or research. And at any time, that view they held was sooner or later altered by changes in the body of knowledge. The Day the Universe Changed examines some of those moments of change."

Book Cover Published 1997

The Axemaker's Gift: Technology's Capture and Control of Our Minds and Culture

The Axemaker's Gift is an imaginative and informed double-edged history of human culture. It shows how the interaction between innovation and the brain has continually reshaped the world and, more important, the way we think.

Book Cover Premiered 1978


The Sherlock Holmes of science, Burke tracks through 12,000 years of history for the clues that lead us to eight great life changing inventions: the atom bomb, telecommunications, the computer, the production line, jet aircraft, plastics, rocketry and television. Burke postulates that such changes occur in response to factors he calls "triggers," some of them seemingly unrelated. These have their own triggering effects, causing change in totally unrelated fields as well. A series that will fascinate students and adults alike. This interdisciplinary approach has never before been applied to history or science and it succeeds tremendously. Winner of the Red Ribbon in the American Film Festival, the scope of the series covers 19 countries and 150 locations, requiring over 14 months of filming.

Book Cover Released 1989

After the Warming

The greenhouse effect: what will earth be like in the year 2050? Suppose we could really see the future, look at several possible scenarios caused by global warming, and trace them to the pivotal actions taken by us today? Social journalist James Burke does just that in this fascinating and innovative new series that encompasses varying viewpoints on the greenhouse effect. Using a device called the "virtual reality model" a computer effect which projects different environments on a location, we see possible realities such as flooding in South Miami. From his vantage point in the future, we can also see how actions taken in the 1990's might slow global warming and change the destiny of earth.