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A Deadly Wandering
Cover of A Deadly Wandering
A Deadly Wandering
A Mystery, a Landmark Investigation, and the Astonishing Science of Attention in the Digital Age
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"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.

"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.

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About the Author-
  • Matt Richtel is a Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times reporter and bestselling nonfiction and mystery author. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Meredith, a neurologist, and their two children. In his spare time, he plays tennis and piano and writes (not very good) songs. Visit him online at www.mattrichtel.wordpress.com.

Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    July 28, 2014
    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. Agent: Laurie Liss, Sterling Lord Literistic.

  • Library Journal

    September 15, 2014

    Richtel (New York Times) expands upon his Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on distracted driving by presenting the story of Utah teenager Reggie Shaw, who caused a fatal accident as he texted while driving. This unfortunate event resulted in a passionate police officer as well as a victims' advocate collaborating to seek justice in an era in which reliance on--or addiction to--mobile devices is a common factor in vehicular accidents. Alongside this narrative of Shaw's evolution from stubbornly refusing to apologize to becoming an advocate for stricter legislation about distracted driving, Richtel details the work of a group of neurosurgeons as they research the extent to which technology consumes and controls the mind. While these sections are certainly compelling and relevant, they bog down the text at times. Ideally, these would have a more natural inclusion into the broader narrative of the accident and its aftermath. VERDICT Overall, this is a highly accessible and timely work. Readers of popular narrative and scientific nonfiction will certainly find this to be a brisk and important read.--Ben Neal, Richland Lib., Columbia, SC

    Copyright 2014 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from October 1, 2014
    Pulitzer Prize winner Richtel takes a multisided, personal look at what he terms a modern tragedy the consequences of texting while driving. In this case, in Utah in 2006, young Reggie Shaw denied against all evidence that he had been texting, and his advocates stated that people become distracted all the time behind the wheel (eating, changing the radio station, etc.). But Reggie's distraction and subsequent wreck killed young family men James Furfaro and Keith O'Dell, two rocket scientists. In 2006, the U.S. had few laws against cell-phone use while driving, and little evidence was publicly shared that such devices could devastatingly distract drivers. Richtel divides his book into three sections Collision, Reckoning, and Redemption and within these, he focuses not just on Reggie and the families affected by the wreck but also on tenacious and brave victims' advocate Terryl Warner, the lawmakers who fought for change in a conservative state, and various neuroscientists, men and women who work tirelessly to show how the rapid advancements of technology may be more than human brains can handle. A rare combination of science, ability, tragedy, and hope, one that should be read by parents and young adults alike as well as legislators.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

  • Nicholas Carr, author of The Shallows "A Deadly Wandering is more than a page-turner. It's a book that can save lives."
  • Publishers Weekly "Illuminates the perils of information overload... Raises fascinating and troubling issues about the cognitive impact of our technology."
  • Jon Huntsman, former governor of Utah "Matt Richtel's riveting book is narrative nonfiction at its finest. ... This book should be placed in every school and legislative chamber in the country."
  • Kirkus Reviews (Starred; a Best Book of the Year) "A compelling, highly emotional, and profoundly important story."
  • Robert Kurson, author of Shadow Divers "A masterpiece of reporting, insight, and empathy. ... A beautiful, cautionary tale that reads like a novel, and that we disregard at our risk."
  • New York Times Book Review (Editor's Choice) "Richtel's compassionate and persuasive book 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."
  • Winnipeg Free Press (A Best Book of the Year) Intensely gripping, compelling, and sobering... A Deadly Wandering gives the potentially lethal risks of the digital age a very human face — one which we can, if we're honest, readily see in the mirror."
  • Douglas Preston, co-author of The Monster of Florence "A portrait of our digital age that will deeply frighten you and cause you to reevaluate many common aspects of your 'connected' life. ... An extraordinarily important book that everyone—and I mean everyone—should read."
  • Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit "This book does that most amazing of feats: it makes cutting-edge scientific research feel relevant to the choices we make every time we get in a car, sit at a desk, or talk to our friends and family."
  • Paula Poundstone "Fabulously well-researched and brilliantly told. ... Moving and interesting."
  • Christian Science Monitor (One of the 10 Best Nonfiction Books of the Year) "Keen and elegantly raw. ... Not just a morality tale but a probe sent into the world of technology. ... Richtel draws all the characters with a fine brush, a delicacy that treats misery both respectfully and front-on."
  • San Francisco Chronicle (A Best Book of the Year) "Exhaustively researched. ... Richtel brings a novelist's knack for unspooling narrative conflict to bear on Shaw's real-life drama."
  • Minneapolis Star Tribune "Each page is... irresistible. ... A richly detailed and compellingly readable exploration of the 'clash' between our brains and the electronic devices that, for many of us, have become essential to 'every facet of life.'"
  • Ralph Nader, author of Unsafe at Any Speed "A gripping book. ... This is human drama and the latest knowledge about obsessive technology woven together in memorable style."
  • Ray LaHood, former U.S. Secretary of Transportation "Americans are addicted to their technology, putting us on a modern day collision course with very real consequences. Matt Richtel brilliantly tells the story of the aftermath of a deadly distracted driving crash. His portrait is riveting. I could not stop reading, and neither will you."
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A Deadly Wandering
A Deadly Wandering
A Mystery, a Landmark Investigation, and the Astonishing Science of Attention in the Digital Age
Matt Richtel
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