James Burke

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Promotional from Connections, 1978.

James Burke (born 1936-12-22) is a British science historian, author, and television producer. He has worked in a number of science and technology shows and documentaries including Tomorrow's World, Connections, and The Day the Universe Changed.

Burke was born in Derry, Northern Ireland, attended school at Maidstone Grammar School, served in the RAF from 1957 to 1959 then went to Jesus College, Oxford where he studied Middle English and obtained a B.A. and M.A. From 1961-1966, he lived and taught in Italy at multiple universities. In 1966, he moved to London and joined the Science and Features Department of the BBC and began presenting for Tomorrow's World before getting involved in his own projects.


My high school world history teacher showed the class segments from various science and history documentaries including James Burke in Connections. I really loved Burke's presentation style, he's extremely animated and doesn't pull any punches when criticizing established institutions like religion and royalty. The impression he left was strong enough that, about a decade later, I still remembered him and found the series online and watched it in its entirety. I've since watched several other programs of his and read some of his books.



Title Years Notes
Tomorrow's World 1966-1971 Describes the latest technology.
Paid Off 1967 Three-part series about employment.
Intimate Relations 1968 Three-part series about doctor-patient relations.
The End of the Beginning 1972 The end of the Project Apollo space program.
The Burke Special 1972-1976 Discussed future technology with an audience.
Stump the Scientist 1974 Children question a panel of scientists.
The Inventing of America 1976 NBC/BBC co-production for the U.S. Bicentennial, with Raymond Burr.
Scenario: The Oil Game 1976 Crisis game examining OPEC.
Scenario: The Peace Game 1977 Crisis game examining NATO.
Connections 1978 10-part series discussing how technology causes unexpected changes.
The Men Who Walked on the Moon 1979 10th anniversary review of the flight of Apollo 11.
The Other Side of the Moon 1979 A critical examination of the Apollo space program.
The Real Thing 1980 Human perception.
The Neuron Suite 1982 Human brain.
MacGillivray Freeman's Speed 1984 As narrator.
The Day the Universe Changed 1985 Major advancements in science and technology.
After the Warming 1989 Climate change.
Masters of Illusion 1993 Renaissance painting.
Connections² 1994 Updating Connections.
Connections³ 1997 Expansion of Connections.
Re-Connections 2004 An interview with Burke looking back on Connections.


Title Year Notes
Tomorrow's World I 1970 With Raymond Baxter.
Tomorrow's World II 1973 With Raymond Baxter.
Connections: Alternative History of Technology 1978 Companion to the TV series.
The Day the Universe Changed 1985 Companion to the TV series.
Chances 1991
The Axemaker's Gift 1995 With Robert Ornstein, illustrated by Ted Dewan.
The Pinball Effect: How Renaissance Water Gardens Made the Carburetor Possible and Other Journeys Through Knowledge 1996
Circles: Fifty Round Trips Through History Technology Science Culture 2000
The Knowledge Web 2001
Twin Tracks: The Unexpected Origins of the Modern World 2003
American Connections: The Founding Fathers 2007



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