We gave it a B
This book’s subtitle, How the Torrent of Images and Sounds Overwhelms Our Lives, raises a question, and the author, a noted media critic, offers the answer: relentlessly. Gitlin provides an evenhanded analysis of ”omnicommunicative” America — a society so fundamentally structured around distraction that researchers count 42 percent of homes with children as ”constant television households.” Locating the historical origins of this panoramic spectacle in 19th-century city life, he goes on to discuss Walkmen and Muzak, sound bites and hyperactivity, the laws of Hollywood supply and global demand. His style mimics his subject: Gitlin piles up facts, anecdotes, and impressions, whips in a bit of theory, and bemusedly discovers grand paradoxes. The book is more wide than deep — a cogent primer, not a profound study.