The Master Switch: Book summary and reviews of The Master Switch by Tim Wu

The Master Switch

The Rise and Fall of Information Empires

By Tim Wu

The Master Switch
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2010,
    384 pages.

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Book Summary

A secret history of the industrial wars behind the rise and fall of the twentieth century's great information empires - Hollywood, the broadcast networks, and AT&T - asking one big question: Could history repeat itself, with one giant entity taking control of American information?

Most consider the Internet Age to be a moment of unprecedented freedom in communications and culture. But as Tim Wu shows, each major new medium, from telephone to cable, arrived on a similar wave of idealistic optimism only to become, eventually, the object of industrial consolidation profoundly affecting how Americans communicate. Every once free and open technology was in time centralized and closed, a huge corporate power taking control of the “master switch.” Today, as a similar struggle looms over the Internet, increasingly the pipeline of all other media, the stakes have never been higher. To be decided: who gets heard, and what kind of country we live in.

Part industrial exposé, part meditation on the nature of freedom of expression, part battle cry to save the Internet’s best features, The Master Switch brings to light a crucial drama--rife with indelible characters and stories--heretofore played out over decades in the shadows of our national life.

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Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Wu' s engaging narrative and remarkable historical detail make this a compelling and galvanizing cry for sanity - and necessary deregulation - in the information age." - Publishers Weekly

"Readers should be knowledgeable about the theories of important economists, such as Joseph Schumpeter, and have an economic background in the characteristics of corporate structures, such as monopolies and oligopolies, to make the best use of this book." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. Wu…artfully charts a single story in which economic power consistently trumps public good, with the Google of today being the latest ‘master switch’ that channels communication….Eye-opening reading, with implications for just about anyone who uses that utility, which means just about everyone." - Kirkus Reviews

"[A] brilliant exploration of the oscillations of communications technologies between ‘open’ and ‘closed’ from the early days of telephone up through Hollywood and broadcast television up to the Internet era." - Forbes

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