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What the past sounded like

The problem of noise is ageless: even Julius Caesar worried about loud wagon traffic, Mike Goldsmith finds

It’s easy to dismiss noise as mere nuisance. But to Mike Goldsmith, a British writer who has studied the science of acoustics for years, the aural clutter of daily life is far from junk. Instead it provides an unusual vantage point on human history, Goldsmith argues in his new book, “Discord: The Story of Noise.”

From the cries of street vendors to the blare of car horns, noise has distracted us, charmed us, and driven us nuts—and our response to this cacophony provides a window into centuries of changing technology, society, and daily life.

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