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The Invention of Air: A Story Of Science, Faith, Revolution, And The Birth Of America Paperback – Bargain Price, September 29, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From The New Yorker
More About the Author
His latest book, Where Good Ideas Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, was a finalist for the 800CEORead award for best business book of 2010, and was ranked as one of the year's best books by The Economist. His book The Ghost Map was one of the ten best nonfiction books of 2006 according to Entertainment Weekly. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Steven has also co-created three influential web sites: the pioneering online magazine FEED, the Webby-Award-winning community site, Plastic.com, and most recently the hyperlocal media site outside.in, which was acquired by AOL in 2011. He serves on the advisory boards of a number of Internet-related companies, including Meetup.com, Betaworks, and Nerve.
Steven is a contributing editor to Wired magazine and is the 2009 Hearst New Media Professional-in-Residence at The Journalism School, Columbia University. He won the Newhouse School fourth annual Mirror Awards for his TIME magazine cover article titled "How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live." Steven has also written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Nation, and many other periodicals. He has appeared on many high-profile television programs, including The Charlie Rose Show, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer. He lectures widely on technological, scientific, and cultural issues. He blogs at stevenberlinjohnson.com and is @stevenbjohnson on Twitter. He lives in Marin County, California with his wife and three sons.
Top Customer Reviews
Johnson does an exceptional job of telling Priestley's story, explaining his scientific discoveries, political philosophies, and theological insights, and putting them all in their proper context. But he goes one step further: he endeavors to explain why Priestley accomplished what he did. He doesn't just focus on Priestley's character traits and native intelligence (both of which were extraordinary); rather, he attributes much of the man's success to his environment, to his friends, to the evolution of technology, and, quite simply, to good fortune. At a time when we are inundated with trendy books that pander to the public's appetite for facile explanations of complex processes (e.g., "Blink," "Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious," etc.), it is refreshing to see someone acknowledge that scientific discoveries, sociological insights and great ideas more often than not take years to evolve and are the product of numerous variables, many of which remain a mystery.
Priestley's enthusiasm, openness and child-like fascination with the world around him are infectious.Read more ›
The problem I have with this book is that it is misleading. To steal a phrase of Somerset Maugham (writing about himself), Joseph Priestley is a good scientist of the second rank. In virtually every account of the history of science or intellectual history he is regarded as a talented dilettante, a gifted amateur. He certainly played a role in the history of science, performing experiments that more important thinkers were able to utilize to further science, but Priestley himself frequently failed -- and Johnson does hint at this without emphasizing its significance -- to understand the full implications of the results of his experiments. He was extremely weak as a theoretician, which is why he is not accounted among the great scientists.
Why is this misleading? Well, historians of science do not regard Priestley as a key or even especially important figure. At no point does Johnson hint that this is the widespread assessment of Priestley's place. It is a tad misleading to state that his contemporaries had one opinion without proceeding to remark that their successors do not share that opinion. Johnson talks of Antoine Lavoisier and Joseph Priestley as the two leading chemists, but it is intensely deceptive to talk as if they were competitors for pride of place. Lavoisier is one of the great geniuses in the history of science. In fact, modern chemistry is usually credited with beginning with him.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great writing very well presented, fascinating subject. I've excerpted this for work and entertainment purposes and given it as a gift more than once.Published 11 days ago by J. Kocsis
This was an amazing tale from beginning to end. I am only saddened by the fact that I am just reading it in 2016 and not in 2008 when published. Read morePublished 14 days ago by @insurancebillvj
Very good book. Very intelligent and well written. Priestly was a formidable leader that influenced many, many people. Read morePublished 22 days ago by MarbTex
As a non-academic, this book was at times a bit dense on the intersections of the history of natural philosphy, politics, and religion at the dawn of the United States' creation,... Read morePublished 22 days ago by kbirdlincoln
Very interesting read. An important figure in American history who is not given the recognition he deserves. Read morePublished 22 days ago by M C M
Interesting history of science and of the late 1700's along with descriptions of British, American, and French society, science, religion and politics.Published 6 months ago by Thomas Adams