Reviewed by Erin McKibbin
What do the Greek poet Simonides of Ceos, the psychologists Hermann Ebbinghaus and George Miller, and Dom DeLuise hula-hooping have in common? They are all various chapters in the centuries long journey and research into the realm of mnemonics. Dictionary.com defines mnemonic as “something intended to assist the memory, as a verse or formula.” Joshua Foer, a freelance journalist, defines it as a path to a vital truth: “In every way that matters, we are the sum of our memories.”
In the fine tradition of other Gonzo Journalists, Foer doesn’t just tell the story of the history of memory through to the current world wide memory championships, he lives it. His voyage begins in a Manhattan auditorium where he observed the 2005 US Memory Championship and met Ed Cooke, a memory savant from Britain and regular participant in the arts memorativa (art of memory). Instead of just writing an article for a magazine about memory, Foer allows Cooke to take him under his wing and train him for the 2006 US Memory Championship. With the help of mnemonics experts throughout the ages, Foer not only discovers the rich cultural history involved in remembering, he arrives in the Con Edison headquarters one year later to give memory experts such as Maurice Stoll a run for their money.
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything is a fascinating study about remembering. Man has been attempting to increase his ability to remember since ancient Greece and despite the advances in “external memory” (paper, books, the internet), the human race still finds it needs the ability to fill their minds, and lives, with memories. Joshua Foer does a fantastic job in proving that with largely forgotten methods, we can all improve our memories.
Erin fell in love with the written word as a small child and subsequently spent most of her life happily devouring literature. She works as a freelance news, marketing, and technical writer as well as a full-time researcher/investigator in the sign industry. Erin lives just outside of Cleveland, Ohio enjoying the beauty of life with her children and grandchildren.
Review and giveaway copies were provided free of any obligation by Penguin Press HC. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.