History of Modern Science: A Guide to the Second Scientific Revolution, 1800-1950

The History of Modern Science: A Guide to the Second Scientific Revolution, 1800-1950
by Stephen G. Brush

Iowa State University Press
P, T **


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The construction of a concise guide to the accomplishments of "the second scientific revolution" is a forbidding task, given the quantity and diversity of scientific intellectual activity between 1800 and 1950. Brush does an admirable job of bringing together and integrating the diverse disciplines lumped under "science." His book is a series of synopses of relatively circumscribed areas with extensive lists of source material, potentially useful for both students and faculty engaged in courses dealing with this time frame. The synopses are particularly interesting and useful since, at their best, they address the influence of one scientific discipline on another. Such philosophical integration makes the text worthy reading for both historians and scientists in search of shorter summaries on the included topics. The inclusion of information on society between 1800 and 1950, as well as anecdotes pertaining to the scientists of the time, is another strength. If the book has any weakness it is in its balance. The physical sciences (physics, astronomy, and so on) are treated at greater length and in considerably more detail that the life and "soft" sciences. Although various readers and users may quibble with Brush's choice and treatment of some topics, the book's wealth of source material and the quality of the summaries should make it a welcome addition to diverse bookshelves.

--Reviewed by Randy L. Moses in Science Books and Films, 24/5 (May/June 1989), pp. 274-5.