A copy of An Ocean of Air should be on every library bookshelf in the world. I found this text both immensely informative and extremely interesting. Quite a number of times, I jumped up, put the book down, and went to find someone to tell about an remarkable fact or a story about a particular scientist that I thought was amusing.
The book is set up in chronological order, exploring the various issues surrounding air. It starts off with the presumptions about air that our ancestors had about the substance. Then, it begins looking at the various individuals who were courageous, curious, and sometimes just plain mad enough to ask questions and seek answers. The stories progress throughout touching on a variety of associated topics from chemical composition of air and the ozone layer to carbonation and space flight.
Apart from the historical and scientific usefulness of this book, I also want to note the humanizing aspect of the various scientists. Often when we picture scientists, we assume that they sit in their laboratory using their great intellect to uncover scientific discoveries. We don't often think about the sacrifices of these individuals or that often such discoveries have not always been popular. Moreover, often the most interesting successful experiences were those that went horribly wrong.