Professor John Heslop Harrison of Newcastle University was one of the most respected and knowledgeable botanists of the first half of the 20th century. His greatest passion was for the plants of the Hebridean islands off the west coast of Scotland. He came to believe that some of the islands' plants were survivors from a time before the last Ice Age, a theory bound to be controversial given that the last advance of the ice sheets extended well south of mainland Scotland. In support of his theory, Heslop Harrison began to report sightings of plants that no one had ever seen on the islands before, and the botanical community started to get suspicious. Were the plants really where Heslop Harrison claimed they were? If so, how did they get there? Could they really have survived on the islands since the last interglacial? Or had the wily old professor carried the specimens to the Hebrides from their sites of origin and planted them?
Karl Sabbagh relates the shady tale of John Heslop Harrison in his highly engaging book A Rum Affair (Rum is the name of the Hebridean island where Harrison made many of his most extraordinary--and suspicious--discoveries). Sabbagh examines the thoughts, actions, and motivation of Harrison and his academic enemies with great aplomb, and goes on to explore how some scientists are driven to the belief that fakery can be in the interest of science. Sabbagh's writing style is sometimes dry and detailed, as befits the treatment of a rather touchy subject, but the book is also laced with absorbing anecdotes and wry humor. It's a winner in a popular history of science genre that is becoming a bit overpopulated these days. --Chris Lavers, Amazon.co.uk --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
As an investigator of chicanery and fraud it is nice to see that at least one "claim" was debunked. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dr. William
I love this book and thoroughly recommend it. It is very detailed and I can imagine some might feel that it is rather overladen with detail. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Dr Mike Sutton
This book is about a series of probably fraudulent botanical observations that took place in the early part of the last century, the efforts of an amateur botanist to report on... Read morePublished on March 9, 2013 by C. Gear
Time was when you could ask three questions of science/nature writing: Is it important? Does it matter? Would anything change if the reverse conclusions were reached? Read morePublished on January 31, 2002 by Joseph D. Ford
I am really quite puzzled as to just why the author wrote this book. By his own admission Sabbagh isn't a scientist, and by his writing it is apparent that he doesn't understand... Read morePublished on December 31, 2001 by John Anderson
In this era of scientific research and breaking stories about falsification and ethical misconduct, the story of a botanical research mystery on a remote island in Scotland in the... Read morePublished on March 29, 2001
The mysterious Isle of Rum off the west coast of Scotland is the site of British botanist, John Heslop Harrison's discoveries of rare plant species which helped make him the... Read morePublished on January 13, 2001 by Rebecca Brown