Tuesday, June 2, 2015
Review: A Deadly Wandering
hardcover, 416 pages
A review copy of this book was provided through TLC Book Tours
Two things made me interested in reading Matt Richtel's A Deadly Wandering: my work as a teacher, and my own experience as a driver--sometimes distracted myself, but more often the appalled observer of drivers who clearly had lost sight of the driving task.
As a high school English teacher, I have witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of technology on attention. From what I can see and understand of my own students, their cell phones and other devices are not just extensions of them, they are very nearly part of the "self" of the average teenager. I see the anxiety teenagers experience when they are separated from their devices, and I see the inability to focus that is caused by the proximity of devices.
A Deadly Wandering is a fascinating account of a fatal car accident, in which a nineteen-year-old driver caused the death of two rocket scientists on their way to work. Reggie Shaw had no memory of the accident itself, but he swore that he had not been texting at the time of the accident.
Matt Richtel tells the story of the accident, and of some tenacious investigators (among them, the police officer who first responded to the accident), and of the eventual trial. Interwoven with this compelling narrative are interviews with scientists conducting the latest research on the science of distraction and attention. The result is an immersive, riveting narrative.
A Deadly Wandering is one of the best nonfiction books I have ever read, on a topic that could hardly be more timely or important. What is our technology doing to us and our brains? How are human beings being altered by the technology that was supposed to free us? And how and why have we become slaves to our technology?
I highly recommend A Deadly Wandering. I guarantee one thing: after reading this book, you will think twice about pulling our your cell phone while you are driving. You will definitely learn important information about how daily (let's face it, for most of us, constant) use of devices, especially while multi-tasking, has a damaging effect on our ability to focus, or function. While the factual and scientific aspects of A Deadly Wandering are gripping, readers will find that Matt Richtel has created compelling portraits of the main players in the tragic deadly accident, and the resulting investigation. The book is emotionally involving, mostly because of the depth of the reporting. Reggie Shaw is depicted both dispassionately, and compassionately--that is to say fairly, but with a real depth of understanding.
I devoured A Deadly Wandering in one weekend, and honestly can't think of a single negative thing to say about this book. I'm still thinking about the people in this book, and definitely feel I understand my own brain better. This book will change the way I think about focus and attention, and how I interact with technology.
For more information about Matt Richtel and A Deadly Wandering: