Sex, Bombs and Burgers


FROM AMAZON: War. Fast Food. Pornography. Pervasive in our culture, these three obsessions may seem to represent the worst qualities of humankind. But what have our lust, greed and rage driven us to achieve?

Canadian cover

In this surprising and original book, Peter Nowak argues that most of the major technological advances of the last sixty years have stemmed from the trio of billion-dollar industries that cater to our basest impulses. From Saran Wrap to aerosols, digital cameras to cold medicine and GM foods to Google, many of the gadgets and conveniences we enjoy today can be traced back to either the porn, military or fast food industry.

Nowak reveals such unexpected links as:

  • How the inventors of toys like Barbie and the Slinky perfected their creations with military-tech know-how.
  • Why “one giant leap for mankind” brought us better hospital meals and stricter food quality control guidelines.
  • How innovations in the adult-film industry will help us build better robotic limbs.

If you’ve ever wondered what inspired the invention of Java, online video streaming or even Tupperware — well, you might not want to know the answer. But you will find it in this book.

Sex, Bombs and Burgers: How War, Porn and Fast Food Created Technology As We Know It was published by Penguin Canada in March 2010. The first chapter is available as a free download (PDF) from Penguin’s website. The complete work is available in bookstores everywhere and through Chapters Online and The ebook is also available from Kobo.

The book was also originally published by Allen & Unwin in March 2010 in Australia and New Zealand, available in bookstores everywhere, and in the United Kingdom in November 2010, with a new paperback available as of June 2011.  It is available in UK bookstores and on as a book and ebook. The ebook is also available from Allen & Unwin’s website.

Sex, Bombs and Burgers will also be published in the United States in the fall of 2011 by Lyons Press.


Australian, NZ & UK cover

“If you think of innovation as an objective process of rational invention, Nowak’s look at the links amongst technology, war, sex, and the food industry, will blow your mind.” - Nora Young, host of CBC Radio’s Spark

“Witty and well-researched… an engaging read, leaving one with several ‘I did not know that’ moments.” - The Globe and Mail

“It’s a highbrow book.” - Steve Paikin, host of TVO’s The Agenda

“An enjoyable and informative history of the surprising origins of some of the technological ‘marvels’ that underpin the modern world.” - BBC Focus

“An alarming, creepy and kind of funny insight into modern life… I promise you that you will find out some things that simply amaze you.” - Richard Fidler, host of ABC Radio’s In Conversation

“This, amazingly, is a subject no one has taken on before, perhaps because it seems so diffuse and inaccessible. Yet Nowak masters the material beautifully.” - Literary Review of Canada