A fun and fascinating exploration of modern technology, Sex, Bombs, and Burgers reveals how these three billion-dollar industries have shaped our everyday lives. It’s also a chronicle of popular culture, chock-full of surprising revelations. Take a look around your home. Your microwave? A British military scientist invented its technology by accident while trying to devise a death ray to blow up enemy planes. Your handheld video recorder? Developed by the military in World War II but adopted and made affordable by post-war pornographers. That vacuum robot on late-night infomercials? Born of a mine sniffer patrolling the caves of Afghanistan.
From the unexpected origins of aerosols, silly putty, and the Internet to Saran Wrap, Tupperware, and video games, here is an engaging look at modern life as we know it.
“An entertaining and well-researched read, filled with surprising facts, Sex, Bombs, and Burgers offers a provocative alternate history of 20th-century progress.”
"Informative and entertaining ... Nowak's study of the interconnectedness of the costs and consequences of technological and cultural innovation is occasionally troubling but consistently entertaining."—Publishers Weekly “Hugely entertaining. Nowak—an experienced journalist—confidently treads where other historians of technology might avoid.”—The New Scientist “An enjoyable and informative history of the surprising origins of some of the technological ‘marvels’ that underpin the modern world.”—BBC Focus “Thought-provoking. You can think of it, if you wish, as a modern version of Mandeville's The Fable of the Bees, which proposed that society's vices are actually good for overall economic health.”—The Guardian “Witty and well-researched ... An engaging read, leaving one with several ‘I did not know that’ moments.”—The Globe and Mail
“Moving effortlessly from the Slinky to space-age Kimchee, this book is packed with fun, fascinating facts. But don't be fooled: exploring the myriad ways the industrial-military complex has radically transformed human life is serious business. Peter Nowak has given us an impressive contribution to the study of how technology creates and fulfills age-old appetites.”
—Hal Niedzviecki, author of The Peep Diaries
“Nowak marshals an impressive arsenal of humor and insight to reveal the surprising history behind some of our best known and most loved technologies and toys. Who knew that sex, fast food, and fighting formed such a powerful, shameful trinity?”
—Craig Silverman, author of Regret the Error and coauthor of Mafiaboy
“Nowak weaves a compelling and surprising tale of the profit, drive, and sheer accident that have created much of the technological world around us. From the Internet to Silly Putty, Nowak shows how deeply cultural technology really is. If you think of innovation as an objective process of rational invention, Nowak’s look at the links amongst technology, war, sex, and the food industry, will blow your mind.”
—Nora Young, host of CBC Radio's Spark