It is now more unlikely than ever before that you will read this review in one sitting (if, that is, you read it at all). The subway conductor is announcing a delay, your cell phone is buzzing, a television is flickering; focusing, for a page, for a paragraph, has never been harder.

We are living through, says Matthew Crawford, a “crisis of attention,” and while he is not the first to comment upon it, his new book, The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction, is among the most thorough, wide-ranging, and deeply considered analyses of this aspect of our cultural moment.

Crawford is a product of the University of Chicago’s prestigious Committee on Social Thought who forsook the Ivory Tower for the mechanic’s garage (he currently operates a motorcycle repair shop in Richmond, Virginia, and, for propriety’s sake, is also a fellow at the...


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