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A Deadly Wandering : A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention
by Matt Richtel


Overview -

A landmark exploration of the vast and expanding impact of technology, rivetingly told through the lens of a deadly collision

One of the year's most original and masterfully reported books, A Deadly Wandering by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Matt Richtel interweaves the cutting-edge science of attention with the tensely plotted story of a mysterious car accident and its aftermath to answer some of the defining questions of our time: What is technology doing to us?  Read more...


 
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More About A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel
 
 
 
Overview

A landmark exploration of the vast and expanding impact of technology, rivetingly told through the lens of a deadly collision

One of the year's most original and masterfully reported books, A Deadly Wandering by Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist Matt Richtel interweaves the cutting-edge science of attention with the tensely plotted story of a mysterious car accident and its aftermath to answer some of the defining questions of our time: What is technology doing to us? Can our minds keep up with the pace of change? How can we find balance? Through Richtel's beautifully constructed narrative, a complex and far-reaching topic becomes intimate and urgent an important call to reexamine our own lives.

On the last day of summer, an ordinary Utah college student named Reggie Shaw fatally struck two rocket scientists while texting and driving along a majestic stretch of highway bordering the Rocky Mountains. Richtel follows Reggie from the moment of the tragedy, through the police investigation, the state's groundbreaking prosecution (at the time there was little precedent to guide the court), and ultimately, Reggie's wrenching admission of responsibility. Richtel parallels Reggie's journey with leading-edge scientific findings regarding human attention and the impact of technology on our brains showing how these devices, now thoroughly embedded into all aspects of our lives, play to our deepest social instincts and prey on parts of the brain that crave stimulation, creating loops of compulsion, even addiction.

Remarkably, today Reggie is a leading advocate who has helped spark a national effort targeting distracted driving, and the arc of his story provides a window through which Richtel pursues actionable solutions to help manage this crisis individually and as a society. A propulsive read filled with fascinating scientific detail, riveting narrative tension, and rare emotional depth, A Deadly Wandering is a book that can change and save lives. "

 
Details
  • ISBN-13: 9780062284068
  • ISBN-10: 0062284061
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Company
  • Publish Date: September 2014
  • Page Count: 416


Related Categories

Books > Technology > Social Aspects
Books > Computers & Internet > Social Aspects - Human-Computer Interaction
Books > Science > Cognitive Science

 
Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2014-07-28
  • Reviewer: Staff

A deadly driving-while-texting car crash illuminates the perils of information overload in this scattershot saga of digital dysfunctions. New York Times reporter and novelist Richtel (The Cloud) recounts the story of Reggie Shaw, a 19-year-old Utah man who in 2006 swerved into oncoming traffic while texting his girlfriend; the resulting accident killed two other men. Part of the book is a lucid, interesting account of the developing brain science of how we focus our attention and how it is distracted by the addictive flood of information from our always connected wireless devices and our insistently multitasked jobs. (Researchers tell the author that texting impairs ones driving as much as being drunk.) Interspersed is a drawn-out journalistic account of the accident’s aftermath, with grieving families, legal proceedings that explore the growth of jurisprudence on driving and cell phones, and Reggie’s guilt and subsequent rebirth as an anti-texting crusader. The author’s determination to juice up the science with human interest, emotional anguish, and courtroom drama feels overdone—many figures in the book have their back stories ransacked for extraneous episodes of trauma and abuse. Still, when Richtel lets the research speak for itself, he raises fascinating and troubling issues about the cognitive impact of our technology. Agent: Laurie Liss, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Sept.)

 
BookPage Reviews

The danger in dividing attention

After closing New York Times reporter Matt Richtel’s compelling book A Deadly Wandering: A Tale of Tragedy and Redemption in the Age of Attention, I couldn’t help but think of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood. Both chronicle the story of a crime. If you’ve ever read In Cold Blood, you know how the story builds with palpable suspense. The same is true here. The crime, though, isn’t coldblooded murder, but something seemingly more mundane: a car accident on a hillside in Utah that killed two rocket scientists and was caused by a careless teenager. The alleged crime is negligent homicide, because the teenager, Reggie, may have been texting just before the crash.

The accident occurred in 2006, when there was no state law against texting and driving. And in the immediate aftermath of the crash, Reggie vehemently denies being on his phone. But soon law enforcement officers aren’t so sure they believe him. What follows is a detailed reporting of the ensuing legal battle—and the effects it has on the key players on both sides.

Along the way, Richtel makes a sinister suggestion: This accident could have happened to anyone. By meeting with neuroscientists who study the science of distraction, Richtel provides a powerful backdrop that explains the significance of Reggie’s accident. It is important not only for the people involved and the driving laws in Utah, but also for all of us out in the everyday world with our phones, those tiny devices constantly demanding attention. When does wandering attention cross the line? When do each of us become, against our better judgment, dangerous?

 

This article was originally published in the October 2014 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.

 
BAM Customer Reviews