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Justus von Liebig: The Chemical Gatekeeper (Cambridge Science Biographies)

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0521524735
ISBN-10: 0521524733
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Editorial Reviews


"For anyone interested in the shifting boundaries between science, commerce, medicine, manufacturing, and government in the nineteenth century, or in the shifting cultural world of chemists, this book will be of great use. It is an excellent synthesis of recent scholarship, much of it due to Brock himself, and complements well the two-volume biography (in German) by Liebig's student Jacob Volhard." Victorian Studies

"...Brock portrays a living and breathing human being, and not the usual plaster figure of the hagiographical literature; we see especially a man who is thoroughly engaged in the political and commerical life of his era. No one has hitherto succeeded in depicting so well this multifaceted Liebig, and Brock's success in doing so constitutes a signal triumph of this remarkable and admirable book." The Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences

"...Brock's work brings to the English-speaking world a long-awaited biography of one of the most important figures in the history of chemistry. In what is perhaps the most significant lesson that emerges from this study, Brock shows how Liebig was a 'public scientist,' recognizing and embracing the civic importance of his science in the modern world." Science

"Constructing a full biography of a scientist has long presented problems for historians on how to meld the science with the life without ignoring one at the expense of the other, or without making an artifical division between them. Brock has balanced these needs well, creating a picture of Liebig and his influence that can be enthusiastically recommended to chemists and historians alike." Bulletin of the History of Chemistry

"William Brock has given us a definitive biography...of a very complex person. Demonstrating an exceptional command of primary documents, recent secondary literature, and standard hagiography, Brock has painted a thematically organized portrait that explains the many dimensions of Liebig's life and work. This is a great book. A `must-read' for historians of nineteenth-century science, it will engage and enlighten anyone interested in the role science plays in modern Western civilization. There's nothing fancy: no psychoanalysis, no postmodern deconstruction, no philosophical webs of metascience, no heavy-handed sociological categories. It's just good scholarship and an enjoyable narrative. Brock focuses on a significant historical figure, clearly explains the changes in science and society that surrounded that figure, and interprets those changes in a way that is meaningful for general readers. As a solid and comprehensive biography of Liebig, it will long endure." Isis

"...carefully selected illustrations and tables provide a good impression of Liebig's times...Brock has written a very sound biography, and he has succeeded in giving a portrait of Liebig's British connections and the effects of his works and performance in Britain. Considering the chapters on farming, food chemistry, and the chemistry of sewage, this book will also be of interest for the historian of technology." Technology and Culture

"Brock's biography is informative and wide ranging...." Agricultural History

"...interesing, useful biography." American Historical Review

Book Description

Justus von Liebig (1803-73) was one of the founding fathers of organic chemistry. Through his controversial ideas on artificial fertilisers, recycling, disease and nutrition, Liebig warned of the dangers of failing to recycle sewage or replace soil nutrients. Via popular lectures and his Chemical Letters, he also played the elder statesman, commenting on scientific methodology and materialism. Brock's fresh interpretation of Liebig's stormy career shows how he demonstrated chemistry's significance for society.

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Science Biographies
  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (June 20, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521524733
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521524735
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,181,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By Larry K. Uffelman on June 23, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Baron Justus von Liebig was one of the most important chemists of the nineteenth century. He was, for instance, one of the founders of organic chemistry and largely responsible for the increasingly important study of biochemistry and bacteriology. His early work on agricultural chemistry revolutionized both British and American agriculture. His work on animal chemistry, combined with his agricultural work, to establish an influential theory of disease. William Brock's book is an admirably clear, understandable, and interesting study of von Liebig's life and career. His chapters are arranged topically, "Liebig and the Doctors," for instance. This makes reading on particular topics much easier than it would otherwise be. His footnotes and bibliography are well presented, thorough, and do not clutter up the text. Those interested in either the history of science or the cross-cultural influences between Germany and Victorian Britain will find this study both informative and very interesting, even if they are not scientists themselves.
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