Regular price: $31.47
Buy Now with 1 Credit
Buy Now for $31.47
This is, in essence, a very detailed history of science in the period between Newton and the dawn of modern science in the mid-1800s, with a particular focus on excitement of discovery and the lives of a few scientists. The book opens with Captain Cook's trip to Tahiti, and then swings through the discovery of Uranus, the birth of air travel (by balloon), and the rapid evolution of chemistry, among other topics. The biographies are quite detailed, covering the work, personal, and professional lives of the scientists involved. To that end, I would agree with the other reviewer - the title is misleading to the extent that the classic Romantics (Byron, Keats, Shelly, etc.) are covered only in passing, and art and literature is not the clear focus.
On the other hand, this book covers a fascinating period in science, one that is rarely written about, since it is less sexy than either the time of Newton or the birth of modern physics. In the stories in this book, you can see how science transitions from a period of pure discovery to an attempt to follow a scientific method. And this is told through engaging stories of life in Tahiti, the early experiments with electricity by genuine mad scientists, and the early days of flight (the President of the Royal Society's first thought when he heard about balloons was to tie them to carriages in order to make the load lighter for horses!) Additionally, for someone like me who doesn't usually like biographies, I found the coverage of the lives of the scientists compelling and the storytelling to be top notch.
A couple of things weigh the experience down. First, the book is a bit long, but there is a lot to keep you listening, though the detail does pile up. Also, the reader is mostly average, except when he tries to do American accents, which is outside his range.
Overall, though, if you like the history of science and want something different, or you are interested in the late 18th/early 19th century, this is a really great listen. For others, it may be a less compelling subject, but it is well written and full of new information.
17 of 18 people found this review helpful
I loved learning about all the amazing scientific figures especially William Herschel and Humphry Davy. Also the section on the advent of balloon flight. The book features mini-biographies that are woven together seamlessly. It's sprinkled with fun anecdotes and details throughout.
The one suggestion would be to get through the first section on Joseph Banks. It's more about geographic exploration and less about science- it's the least interesting part of the book- which gets much better afterwards.
The narration by Gildart Jackson is sublime. He handles all the French, German, Latin, scientific terms and even gives distinct accents to all spoken characters. He gives Davy what I assume is a Cornish accent. His American accent is charming if not perfectly accurate. He's a terrific reader.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful