James Burke writes well, and what he writes is often stimulating, and thought-provoking. On the other hand, some of what he writes is exasperating—he writes in sweeping generalities, and often his ‘connections’ are exaggerations, giving no weight (or even mention) to alternative, equally plausible accounts.
But on balance, I enjoy listening to him. Here is one of the bits I especially liked:
(p. 19) Because the rule of law exists, and above all because it encourages and protects acts of innovation with patent legislation, we in the modern world expect that tomorrow will be better than today. Our view of the universe is essentially optimistic because of the marriage between law and innovation. Law gives an individual the confidence to explore, to risk, to venture into the unknown, in the knowledge that he, as an innovator, will be protected by society.
Burke, James. The Day the Universe Changed: How Galileo’s Telescope Changed the Truth and Other Events in History That Dramatically Altered Our Understanding of the World. Back Bay Books, 1995.