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Download How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery Audiobook

Extended Audio Sample How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery Audiobook, by Kevin Ashton Click for printable size audiobook cover
0 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 50 out of 5 0.00 (0 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Kevin Ashton Narrator: Kevin Ashton Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: October 2014 ISBN: 9780553399134
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Inspiring and empowering, this journey behind the scenes of humanity’s greatest creations reveals the surprising way we make something new.

What do Thomas Jefferson’s ice cream recipe, Coca-Cola, and Chanel No. 5 have in common? They all depended on a nineteenth-century African boy who, with a single pinch, solved one of nature’s great riddles and gave birth to the multimillion-dollar vanilla industry. Kevin Ashton opens his book with the fascinating story of the young slave who launched a flavor revolution to show that invention and creation come in unexpected shapes and sizes.

From the crystallographer’s laboratory where the secrets of DNA were first revealed by a long-forgotten woman, to the electromagnetic chamber where the stealth bomber was born on a twenty-five cent bet, Ashton weaves tales of humanity’s greatest creations to unpack the surprising true process of discovery. Drawing on the Amish and the iPhone, Kandinsky and cans of Coke, Lockheed, South Park, and the Wright brothers—who set out to “fly a horse”—he showcases the seemingly unremarkable individuals, gradual steps, multiple failures, and countless ordinary—and usually uncredited—acts that led to our most astounding breakthroughs.

Creators, he shows, apply everyday ordinary thinking that we are all capable of in particular ways, taking thousands of small steps and working in an endless loop of problem and solution. He explores why innovators meet resistance and how they overcome it, why most organizations stifle creative people, and how the most creative organizations work.

In a passionate and profound narrative that amazes and inspires, Ashton’s book sheds new light on how new comes to be.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Ashton takes on creation’s most pernicious clichés. Great ideas don’t come as sudden gifts, he says. Creation is a grueling process, one that involves long nights, missteps and building slowly on what’s come before. To make his case, he sifts through social science and history to debunk the ‘aha’ stories behind the creation of the iPhone, the discovery of a popular cancer cure, and the magic of Woody Allen’s humor…Being a genius is hard work. But that spark is in all of us.”

    Washington Post

  • “Provides plenty of insight into how people create but, at the same time, systematically dismantles the myth of creative genius…The book is an entertaining and enlightening romp through creation, invention, and discovery…If you want to tap your creative potential, buy this book. It’s the last one you’ll ever need to read.”

    Toronto Star

  • “Ashton guides us through the baby steps, detours, blunders, and assists that bring creations that we all now take for granted into existence. How to Fly a Horse even invites you into the enterprise, explaining how ordinary people and supposedly average organizations can generate ideas and solutions that open new doors and windows to our world—and their business.”


  • “The creations documented in this thought-provoking book prove that creative power resides in us all.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Ashton shows how asking the right questions and providing the right frame for the problem can achieve something extraordinary…[and] makes compelling arguments about creativity and genius.”

    Kirkus Reviews

  • "[An] entertaining and inspiring meditation on the nature of creative innovation…Fans of Malcolm Gladwell and Stephen Levitt will enjoy Ashton’s hybrid nonfiction style, which builds a compelling cultural treatise from a coalescence of engaging anecdotes.”


  • “Ashton narrates his book about creativity in a clear, steady voice.”


  • A Barnes & Noble Editor’s Recommendation
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About the Author

Kevin Ashton is the cofounder and former executive director of the MIT Auto-ID Center. He created the Internet of Things and other things and, in addition to writing books, sometimes writes for Medium and Quartz. He can be found on Twitter @Kevin_Ashton.