Thursday, June 4

A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel

It is the end of summer, in 2006, and Reggie Shaw was driving to work. While texting, Reggie crosses the center line and hits an oncoming vehicle. The crash kills both men in the car, both rocket scientists, and injures the driver in the car behind Reggie. In his bestselling book A Deadly Wander, Matt Richtel tells Reggie’s story while also taking a look at human attention and how distractions can affect the brain.

It didn’t take me very long to get hooked, and I wasn’t surprised to see that this book had become a best seller. The writing is never dry and Richtel’s focus on Reggie, the subsequent investigation, the court case, and the rest of people involved provided a strong narrative backbone. This narrative structure is what first hooked me and kept me reading.

While Richtel intercuts this story with a look at the science behind attention and distraction, I felt myself itching to get back to Reggie’s story. This isn’t to say the other sections are bad. They were very interesting and provided a lot of insight into the human brain that I had not heard before.  I would be interested in reading a separate book that expands on the information provided here even though it didn’t quite ‘grip’ me in the same way that the narrative element did.

A Deadly Wandering shows the potential deadliness behind cell phone use while driving and does an excellent job showing how it is different than other possible distractions such as changing the radio station or eating a burger. While I do usually make a point not to use my phone while driving, it is easy to think that a quick check after a ‘chirp’ isn’t that big of deal. After reading this book I am much more conscious about how I interact with my phone while driving.

While the ending of the book gets a little bit repetitive, it’s hard to fault it too much given the strength of the information it provides. I’m not usually one to recommend a book for ‘everyone,’ but this one is certainly very close. Given how commonplace texting while driving seems to be, any driver with a cell phone may find this book enlightening. At the very least I would love to see an abbreviated version of this published to use in driver education courses.

5/5 Stars

I received this book free from TLC Book Tours. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255

About A Deadly Wandering

• Hardcover: 416 pages • Publisher: William Morrow (September 23, 2014) From Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Matt Richtel, a brilliant, narrative-driven exploration of technology’s vast influence on the human mind and society, dramatically-told through the lens of a tragic “texting-while-driving” car crash that claimed the lives of two rocket scientists in 2006. In this ambitious, compelling, and beautifully written book, Matt Richtel, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times, examines the impact of technology on our lives through the story of Utah college student Reggie Shaw, who killed two scientists while texting and driving. Richtel follows Reggie through the tragedy, the police investigation, his prosecution, and ultimately, his redemption. In the wake of his experience, Reggie has become a leading advocate against “distracted driving.” Richtel interweaves Reggie’s story with cutting-edge scientific findings regarding human attention and the impact of technology on our brains, proposing solid, practical, and actionable solutions to help manage this crisis individually and as a society. A propulsive read filled with fascinating, accessible detail, riveting narrative tension, and emotional depth, A Deadly Wandering explores one of the biggest questions of our time—what is all of our technology doing to us?—and provides unsettling and important answers and information we all need.
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About Matt RichtelMatt Richtel

Matt Richtel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning technology reporter for the New York Times. He is the author of A Deadly Wandering and the novels The Cloud and Devil's Plaything. Find out more about A Deadly Wandering and texting-while-driving at


  1. I'm also guilty of checking my phone while driving. I'm sure that reading this book will give me a serious reality check.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  2. I would be really interested in reading why checking your phone is different than changing the radio station. I've wondered about this!