Jimmy Soni, Rob Goodman
Claude Shannon was the Isaac Newton of information theory--and that's not an exaggeration; he reified and measured the concept of "information" much as Newton made sense of force and acceleration. Unlike Newton, he seems to have been a genuinely playful and sweet-natured man. After revolutionizing communication, he rode unicycles, taught himself to juggle, and built whimsical machines--like the box with the switch on top; when the switch was turned on, a mechanical arm emerged, turned off the switch, and retracted.
A Mind at Play is not a super-dense book, either as biology or as mathematics. Its core is a very nice summary, very light on mathematics, of just what it was that Shannon did. I think the authors missed a couple of tricks for the more knowledgeable reader--the deep connections between information entropy and physical entropy go unacknowledged--but the book is well-written and provides a good, sympathetic character portrait.
Among the good books that overlap with A Mind at Play are:
- The Innovators, Walter Isaacson
- The Idea Factory, Jon Gertner
- The Information, James Gleick (much more technically rich)