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

How to Fly a Horse: The Secret History of Creation, Invention, and Discovery Audiobook, by Kevin Ashton Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Kevin Ashton Narrator: Kevin Ashton Publisher: Random House Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: January 2015 ISBN: 9780553399134
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As a technology pioneer at MIT and as the leader of three successful start-ups, Kevin Ashton experienced firsthand the all-consuming challenge of creating something new. Now, in a tour-de-force narrative twenty years in the making, Ashton leads us on a journey through humanity’s greatest creations to uncover the surprising truth behind who creates and how they do it. 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, to the Ohio bicycle shop where the Wright brothers set out to “fly a horse,” Ashton showcases the seemingly unremarkable individuals, gradual steps, multiple failures, and countless ordinary and usually uncredited acts that lead to our most astounding breakthroughs. Creators, he shows, apply in particular ways the everyday, ordinary thinking of which we are all capable, taking thousands of small steps and working in an endless loop of problem and solution. He examines why innovators meet resistance and how they overcome it, why most organizations stifle creative people, and how the most creative organizations work. Drawing on examples from art, science, business, and invention, from Mozart to the Muppets, Archimedes to Apple, Kandinsky to a can of Coke, How to Fly a Horse is a passionate and immensely rewarding exploration of 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.