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The Jewel House: Elizabethan London and the Scientific Revolution Paperback – October 28, 2008
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The first case study Harkness undertakes is that of the naturalists centered in Lime Street, a cosmopolitan central London neighborhood, "the English outpost of a Europe-wide network of students of nature." The naturalists here corresponded with each other in a way that (at least sometimes) shows the ideal balance of cooperation and competitiveness that scientists ought to have, and they swapped specimens and did fieldwork.Read more ›
It is striking to compare London with China at approximately the same time; Benjamin Elman, William Rowe, and others have shown a similar and equally little-known ferment there, but even their best efforts don't seem to show as much sheer originality, inventiveness, and wild-eyed experimentation in Chinese cities as London had. China never quite made the breakthrough to modern science until the 20th century. London--and, Ogilvie reminds us, the whole "republic of letters" all over Europe--had a culture of scientific advance rooted in trades, crafts, mining, brewing, fish trapping, bird snaring, everything. People were trying every new scheme to produce more.
Alchemy and astrology receive due respect here. In those days, everyone knew that metallurgy could make amazing transformations; no one knew that gold, silver, etc. were primary elements that simply could not be easily transformed into each other.Read more ›
I'll give the book a 3 for "readability/accessibility" and a 4+ for scholarship.
I read this book because it is a scholarly/nonfiction work by Deborah Harkness, whose novels "Discovery of Witches" and "Shadow of Night" I have enjoyed thoroughly. Indeed, its obvious that so much of the "smartness" and intelligence of her novels comes from hours and hours and hours of research in some of the world's oldest and most prestigious libraries and collections.
The Bibliography of the book is loaded with citations of hundreds of 17th century manuscripts and other primary sources and period books.
Interestingly, this book had some of the same characteristics of her novels - a GREAT beginning and a WONDERFUL ending sandwich a so-so middle.
The book was a look at science in Elizabethan London which also satisfies my own professional and historical interests in science, invention, and chemistry, although not from anacademic perspective.
As with most things, it's amazing how little things change over time and how we never seem to learn important lessons - whether you are for or against government influence/sponsoring of emerging or "pet" industries/technologies - Solyndra and the military-industrial complex being recent and timeless examples - you will be astounded to learn how politics, power, and royalty - even as high as Queen Elizabeth I - influenced what scientific and industrial projects received financing in the 1600s. And if you think today's politicians are greedy/corrupt, they seem like saints against the men in high places who profited from these projects.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Creative analysis of the history of scientific inquiry. Occasionally repetitive, but the unique perspective and insights make it worth reading.Published 5 months ago by Malene Bentley
I love to read non fiction that encompasses the history of science. This was a treasure trove of a specific time and place in the history of scientific methods and achievements. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Katherine Perloff
a continuation of the histories she writes so very well.Published 15 months ago by MARILYN SILVERMAN
Lively, well-researched alternative view of the development of medicine and science in Elizabethan England.Published 17 months ago by Cullen Irish