"Deserves a spot next to Fast Food Nation and To Kill a Mockingbird in America’s high school curriculums. To say it may save lives is self-evident.” —New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice)
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR: San Francisco Chronicle, Chrisitian Science Monitor, Kirkus, Winnipeg Free Press
One of the decade's most original and masterfully reported books, A Deadly Wandering by Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times journalist Matt Richtel interweaves the cutting-edge science of attention with the tensely plotted story of a mysterious car accident and its aftermath to answer some of the defining questions of our time: What is technology doing to us? Can our minds keep up with the pace of change? How can we find balance?
On the last day of summer, an ordinary Utah college student named Reggie Shaw fatally struck two rocket scientists while texting and driving along a majestic stretch of highway bordering the Rocky Mountains. A Deadly Wandering follows Reggie from the moment of the tragedy, through the police investigation, the state's groundbreaking prosecution, and ultimately, Reggie's wrenching admission of responsibility. Richtel parallels Reggie's journey with leading-edge scientific findings on the impact technology has on our brains, showing how these devices play to our deepest social instincts. A propulsive read filled with surprising scientific detail, riveting narrative tension, and rare emotional depth, A Deadly Wandering is a book that can change—and save—lives.
A deadly driving-while-texting car crash illuminates the perils of information overload in this scattershot saga of digital dysfunctions. New York Times reporter and novelist Richtel (The Cloud) recounts the story of Reggie Shaw, a 19-year-old Utah man who in 2006 swerved into oncoming traffic while texting his girlfriend; the resulting accident killed two other men. Part of the book is a lucid, interesting account of the developing brain science of how we focus our attention and how it is distracted by the addictive flood of information from our always connected wireless devices and our insistently multitasked jobs. (Researchers tell the author that texting impairs ones driving as much as being drunk.) Interspersed is a drawn-out journalistic account of the accident's aftermath, with grieving families, legal proceedings that explore the growth of jurisprudence on driving and cell phones, and Reggie's guilt and subsequent rebirth as an anti-texting crusader. The author's determination to juice up the science with human interest, emotional anguish, and courtroom drama feels overdone many figures in the book have their back stories ransacked for extraneous episodes of trauma and abuse. Still, when Richtel lets the research speak for itself, he raises fascinating and troubling issues about the cognitive impact of our technology.