Shortcut: How Analogies Reveal Connections, Spark Innovation, and Sell Our Greatest Ideas

John Pollack. Gotham, $27 (272p) ISBN 978-1-592-40849-8
Toward the end of his study of analogy, Pollack (The Pun Also Rises) references the 19th-century physicist James Clerk Maxwell’s observation that “an analogy reveals one truth within two expressions.” Taking this idea even further, Pollack suggests that the analogy is the cornerstone of communication. Employing a diverse set of anecdotes that feature everything from sixth-century Irish monks to Reagan’s political ads to the Wright Brothers, the author outlines the analogy’s power to innovate, persuade, and even alter the course of human history. Pollack defines five criteria for a successful analogy; by applying these standards, one can determine its effectiveness and even separate those based in truth from those that are merely manipulative. Though sensible and straightforward, Pollack’s thesis, like most attempts to impose a rigid system onto a vast semiotic concept, occasionally feels forced. Perhaps the comparison drawn between a computer screen and a physical desktop democratized the computer, but such analysis downplays the inexplicable genius and vision of individuals in favor of a formulaic sense of analogy. Agent: Gillian MacKenzie, Gillian Mackenzie Agency. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 06/09/2014
Release date: 09/11/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-1-59240-947-1
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