Monday, January 18, 2016

Bynum, William (2013): A Little History of Science

What is it about?

The book is basically an intellectual history of the mankind; it proceeds more or less chronologically from some millennia BCE until the modern day. However, the bulk of the book is devoted to the past two or three centuries, which is entirely appropriate for a modern-day reader.

Was it good?

Extremely good. The proceeding is not strictly linear over time, because the book is nicely organized into thematic chapters (e.g. "airs and gases", "coughs, sneezes and diseases") each of which present a "mini-history" of that theme, spanning a few decades or a century or so. This is a very appealing choice, as in this manner the reader can absorb the contents in thematic modules of sort. In addition, the narrative is very fluent and even entertaining, in many cases following a central character within a focal "mini-history". 

The main take-away for me?

Well, perhaps the main take-away from a book like this has to be the 'great arch' of developments - how the human kind has proceeded in acquiring knowledge and understanding its surroundings. However, while reading books like this, I tend to wonder more strongly as usual about in what respects we, today, are more or less in the dark concerning this or that - like people some centuries ago concerning how diseases spread, for example.

Who should read the book?

This - or equivalent contents - should be be read (or known in outline) by every well-read person, for sure. Moreover, as the book is very fluently written, it should be quite accessible to anyone.

The book on A Little History of Science

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