Why write book like this? Well, writing beats real work. And I hope you'll find it diverting. History is where we come from, so it's worth a look. And as navigators say: you don't know where you're going if you don't know where you've been.
That paragraph from the preface of James Burke's American Connections sums up the entire book. He's written a good commute book; entertaining enough to distract you but neatly parceled into 5-7 page chapters so you won't miss your stop. Burke uses his Connection walk through history to connect the signers of the Declaration of Independence to someone or something that's part of recent memory (and yes, he connects Josiah Bartlett to his fictional descendant, President Bartlett of The West Wing). Some connections feel forced, others are more natural, and most chapters either share information or recycle facts from Burke's prior books (hence the "beats real work" comment). Burke also retains his breezy, slightly irreverent style, so I'll forgive the recycling.