The History of Science in the Eighteenth Century

The History of Science in the Eighteenth Century
by Ray Spangenburg and Diane K. Moser

(Illus.; from the On the Shoulders of Giants series)
Facts on File, Inc.
Glossary; Index
YA *


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This book on 18th-century science is part of a four-volume series covering the history of science since antiquity. It is a generally reliable and readable treatment of the breadth of scientific activity in the century after Newton. Astronomy, geology, chemistry, electricity, natural history, and the life sciences are discussed in the context of social and political developments and the industrial revolution. From the vast scope of scientific activity that this century offers, the authors have chosen judiciously and fairly. The vignettes present enough biographical and contextual information to make them interesting and colorful, yet convey the important contributions of the men and women discussed. The authors show sensitivity to the historical context of the scientific work, and go out of their way to show why now-bypassed theories seemed eminently plausible at the time. There are some minor flaws, apparently stemming from reliance on historical treatments now considered to have been surpassed. This is reflected in the rather eclectic bibliography, where important and accessible references are missing, and a variety of less-reliable references appear. The illustrations are well-chosen, often portraying the people discussed in the conduct of their scientific work. The chronology and glossary are helpful and reliable. Overall, this is a very good introduction to the subject for the young adult reader.

--Reviewed by Joseph N. Tatarewicz in Science Books and Films, 29/8 (November 1993), p. 234.