- Hardcover: 408 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (April 15, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 019922689X
- ISBN-13: 978-0199226894
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 1.2 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #936,611 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Science: A Four Thousand Year History 1st Edition
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"Very well-written and highly readable. The language is clear and the arguments are lucid. Frequent examples and anecdotes enliven dry, theoretical concepts. With the author's engaging style of writing, even those with topics that might not normally have captured one's interest become a pleasure to read."--American Scientist
"Fara's book marks an important direction in the discipline: a bona-fide historian of science writing an engaging book for the general reader."--Chemical Heritage
About the Author
Patricia Fara lectures in the History and Philosophy of Science at the University of Cambridge and is the Senior Tutor of Clare College. She is the author of numerous books, including Fatal Attraction: Magnetic Mysteries of the Enlightenment and Newton: The Making of Genius. Her writing has appeared in New Scientist, Nature, The Times, and New Statesman, and she writes a regular column for Endeavour.
Top customer reviews
Strangely, the book only makes a bit of sense if one already knows some history of science. Then the pet peeves and politically-blinkered judgements can be fitted into some kind of background. Tellingly, there is not a single chart, equation, formula, symbol, explanation, or diagram in the book's 482 pages. When reading it, there was more than one place where I was certain that the author does not know science to a level that would grant authority to comment on it -- the author may know history, and have strong views about historiography, but is adrift with science itself.
As with some other modern soi-disant science historians, the author has bugaboos that she worries at like an aching tooth: the “scientific hero” or “lone genius,” and the injustice of attributions misplaced or unplaced. While it is possible to make a misleading, treacly romance of most scientific discoveries and make a hero of the individual involved, the fact remains that most advances have been the work of one person, sometimes two, working in the West. More importantly, other histories of science do not present such romances -- the apparent need the author feels to correct these wrongs is quite misplaced. That “heroes’ arise from this appears to give historians cause for fault hunting, mote magnifying, and otherwise searching for feet of clay. That Newton was a suppressive tyrant as president of the Royal Society of London, eager and combative after his own legacy, does not detract from his having discovered and promulgated the remarkable and long-useful universal law of gravitation or his insights in spectral dioptrics. Whether He, Archimedes, Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Huygens, Fresnel, or Einstein would have been an apt guest for Sunday dinner, an appropriate date for my niece, or a good counselor and neighbor, is unimportant and quite beside the point.
I read each section of this book, thinking, "What does any of this have to do with the title of the section?" At times, Fara makes more references to comparative literature of the times than she does to the science and scientists. At other times, I feel as though this book is a nothing more than a published set of notes, because it seems so chaotic in its assortment. The book never develops a flow.
I think the most disconcerting thing about this book is it seems very confused in its intended audience. It is far too complicated for the layman, making subtle references to ideas that a scholar would know. On the other hand, if the book was intended for scholars of the history of science, then it is banal, pedestrian, and its existence is superfluous, as it suits no needs of the scholar in HPS. I am also concerned that some of the points made throughout are not entirely correct, either lacking in complete explication or simply incorrect.
On the positive side, there were a dozen bits of useful information that I took away from this work, but that is not much for nearly 400 pages of reading.
Most recent customer reviews
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