- Paperback: 568 pages
- Publisher: Nation Books (November 8, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1560257482
- ISBN-13: 978-1560257486
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.5 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 33 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #501,681 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
A People's History of Science: Miners, Midwives, and Low Mechanicks
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. Something we hope you'll especially enjoy: FBA items qualify for FREE Shipping and Amazon Prime.
If you're a seller, Fulfillment by Amazon can help you increase your sales. We invite you to learn more about Fulfillment by Amazon .
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
From Publishers Weekly
In this persuasive history, Conner aggressively pursues evidence of how, since the earliest civilizations, elite scientists have suppressed and excluded lower class innovators while learning from and using their discoveries, often without giving them credit. As Conner notes, many of the "Great Man" myths about people like Galileo and Columbus, once believed to have made their contributions to science out of their own genius, have been debunked, but even those persist in the popular imagination, and others have never been addressed. The pages are dense with information and quotes from both primary sources and modern revisionist historians, and Conner tries to cover too much in too little space, but he writes clearly and skillfully shows connections as he ranges across time periods and disciplines from medicine to art to astronomy. However, despite promising to highlight women's important role in the sciences, they are mostly absent, and the brief chapter on modern times mostly concerns itself with corruption in the pharmaceuticals and atomic weaponry industries. Nonetheless, this book is a valuable synthesis of previously spotty attempts to show science's reliance on the anonymous multitudes for many important advances.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Explicitly emulating Howard Zinn's enduringly popular A People's History of the United States (1979), Conner applies an anti-elitist point of view in his survey of science from prehistory to the present. Conner is not as occupied with scientific ideas and discoveries as he is with the sociology and historiography of science. He is keen to oppose the inculcation of admiration for the Great Men of Science--words he capitalizes in disparagement--but since science historians of socialist bent have preceded him in this iconoclastic project, Conner acknowledges that his work is something of a synthesis. That will be valuable for bringing specialist literature to general readers, who will imbibe Conner's contention that manual workers, tradesmen, and craftsmen, through a trial-and-error process, created the empirical basis for the scientific revolution of the seventeenth century. In Conner's collectivist framework, names associated with the experimental method, such as Francis Bacon and Robert Boyle, are like copyright pirates; and the notion of the individual genius-scientist is illusory. With a stout left-wing attitude, Conner's tome will instigate debate. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Conner's thesis is that although the history of science has often been portrayed in the usual "Great Men" style as the work of a privileged few brilliant men (and yes, almost only men) seeing further than anyone elses and inventing wondrous new sciences and technologies, in reality most of established academia during the ages was of no value whatever, and real scientific progress resulted through the experiments and practice of artisans, painters, miners, etc., not through the academic thinking of the learned.
Tracing a chronology of technological development, Conner gives a convincing if not entirely open-and-shut case for this thesis, in particular when it comes to demonstrating the great advances in science made by the lowly and unacademic during the ancient periods as well as the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Equally, Conner gives women and non-Europeans their due, quite correctly emphasizing the large advances in technology made by the Chinese, the Native American societies, the Arabs, and so on, often ages before any European ever conceived of the thought. Conner does this quite well, in the process also repudiating the popular view of the natives as the "noble savages living in communion with nature"; in reality the various Indian tribes were masters at the manipulation of nature to their advantage, such as forestry and the genetic selection of edible plants to improve agriculture.
However, this book also has clear and evident downsides. Conner's own specialization seems to be in the history of science during the period of the Renaissance through the 18th-19th Centuries, for it is the chapters on this that are by far the best part of the book and particularly worth reading. On other subjects, however, he is much less informed. Especially the chapter on science in ancient Greece is woefully erroneous: Conner has bought completely into the oft-refuted theories of Martin Bernal, including even the slanderous commentary on Karl Otfried Müller, which even Bernal himself has since withdrawn. The entire "out of Africa" tendency of this chapter is as wrong and unscientific as that idea itself. But that's not all, since Conner's understanding of Plato is also horribly mangled, leading him to either ignore or completely misunderstand the possibly progressive elements in Plato's "Republic". For example, when discussing Plato's political views, Conner at no point even deems it worth mentioning that in Plato's ideal society men and women would have an equal opportunity to lead if worthy, surely a very revolutionary view in his time (compare it to Aristoteles!). He also does not understand Plato's conception of the various classes in his society, which are explicitly opposed to the idea of castes one are born into, unlike what Conner seems to assume. Conner even quotes Marx who refutes the point he is trying to make in that context.
I do not know enough about most of the other subjects Conner writes on without being specialized in them, like classical China, prehistoric societies, and so on, to judge whether that suffers from similar flaws, but at least if he gets these things that I do happen to know so horribly wrong, that bodes ill for the trustworthiness of the entire book. So do take his analysis with a grain of salt at all times, and check the sources elsewhere. Additionally, the book contains many minor spelling errors and wrong expressions in foreign languages cited; not a big deal, but something a competent editor should have caught and removed.
On the whole, the book's chapters on the so-called Scientific Revolution are very good, and his commentaries on other historians of science are worth reading. His thesis is also sufficiently proven to be convincing, if not enough to be certain; it may be added though that he does not establish very well that the Great Men theory of the history of science is actually still supported by contemporary historians, making his case seem a bit obsolete. And his use of sources is very narrow and occasionally wholly incorrect at times, so be skeptical when reading.
Conner is surely a very good writer and all information very educational and many of them
will shock you because the detail analyze.
Recommend to people who is interested to know about how human develop in history in world.
I recommend this book to anyone who's interested in science but is afraid that himself/herself cannot be a great man of science. This book has successfully convinced me that even if I do not have quick mind, or innate scientific genius, I can still make even major contributions to science. Science is not exclusive to those smart people, those who were dabbed 'great men of science'. However some foibles of this book are to be noticed: there is, essentially, no significant original idea from the author, and this book has taken a rather literary approach, containing few details about those major scientific contributions. In fact, I would claim that the approach taken by the author is so literal that this book should better be classified as a history book or literature book, rather than science book.(It belongs to the science books category in my local library)
Most recent customer reviews
Are rich people people?Read more