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Faraday: The Life (Text Only) [Kindle Edition]

James Hamilton
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

A major biography of Michael Faraday (1791–1867), one of the giants of 19th century science and discoverer of electricity who was at the centre of an extraordinary scientific renaissance in London.

Faraday’s life was truly inspirational. Son of a Yorkshire blacksmith who moved to London in 1789, he was a self-made, self-educated man whose public life was underpinned by his devotion to a minor Christian sect (the Sandemanians) and to his wife. He was also a fine writer and brilliant lecturer.

This book is a passionate exploration of his life, work and times (he was a pioneering scientific all-rounder who also experimented with electromagnetism, techniques for preserving meat and fish, optical glass, the safety lamp, and the identification of iodine as a new element).

It will also tell the story of the dawn of the modern scientific age and interweave Faraday’s life with the groundbreaking work of the Royal Institution and other early scientists like Humphrey Davey, Charles Babbage, John Herschel and Mary Somerville.



Product Description

Amazon Review

With his discoveries in electricity, magnetism and other fields Faraday is universally acknowledged as a giant of the 19th century and in this authoritative and lively account, Faraday, James Hamilton explains the nuts and bolts of these discoveries. What is less well known is that Faraday was a self-made, self-educated man who also belonged to a small, and now long-forgotten, fundamentalist Christian sect called the Sandemanians who rose to become a Deacon in the church in 1832, and an Elder in 1840. In fact Sandemanianism was the cornerstone of his life and "the mark against which he measured his conduct, attitudes and relationships" and--despite the fact that Faraday occupied a highly prestigious position at the centre of world science--he remained "submissive to the collective and coercive will of the Elders and the word of God". From a modern 21st century perspective it seems almost incredible that Faraday submitted to such treatment but, as Hamilton makes clear, the influence of Sandemanianism enabled Faraday to exercise incredible self-discipline which, in turn, fed his talent for clarity of thought and explication, while also winning hearts along the way.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the book is the manner of Faraday's rise through the scientific ranks and a major part of the story was his relationship with the most talented and powerfully charismatic scientific figure of the day, Sir Humphrey Davy. The manner in which Faraday gradually overtook Davy as Britain's most celebrated scientist and the personal jealousies and spite that he patiently endured along the way makes for fascinating reading. Hamilton manages to convey the sense of just how important Faraday was to the development of culture in the 19th century, but also how Faraday managed to combine—-though not without severe tension--his dedication to science with a love of art and an obedience to the teachings of the Church. Overall this is a very informative, clearly written and enjoyable read.--Larry Brown

Review

‘Faraday could not have had a better biographer…comprehensive, lucid, unfailingly intelligent’ Financial Times
‘This lively new biography throws a different, highly illuminating beam on the forces that charged Faraday’s imagination’ Jenny Uglow, Sunday Times
‘Full of rich and fascinating material Hamilton’s biography humanises Faraday, and sets him convincingly in the context of Romanticism’ Lisa Jardine, The Times
‘This exemplary study adds new depth to our understanding of a brilliant and complex man’ The Economist
‘A delightful and well-illustrated account. Few historians of science write as well as Hamilton’ Sunday Telegraph


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 927 KB
  • Print Length: 496 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (21 Jun. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008B0UL9G
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #410,899 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
4.2 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Faraday under the microscope 21 Dec. 2002
Format:Hardcover
You don't have to be scientist or even have a scientific bent to enjoy this excellent study of one of the world's great minds. Michael Faraday is an intriguing figure and you slowly become drawn in to his story that the author tells sparingly but skilfully.

Faraday, son of a blacksmith, was apprenticed to a bookbinder and became captivated by the highly popular public science lectures of the charismatic Sir Humphrey Davy. He followed these perorations with great intensity, writing down everything and duly sending the burnished results to the great man himself. From there it was a short step to becoming Davy's under rated and rather abused assistant, and even for a while his valet.

But Faraday has the final satisfaction of surpassing even Davy himself in fame and honour. Indeed so self-effacing was he that the Royal Institute that employed him only woke up belatedly to find they had a world-class figure burrowing away in the basement laboratory.

The story unfolds gently and with some fascinating asides. We learn of the incomparable Mary Somerville whose own achievements were extraordinary for the time. Even Charles Dickens crosses Faraday's path as both were consummate presenters and entertainers in their own way, and both admired the other's talents.

The strange religion that Faraday somehow reconciled with his science is a curious backdrop to this quiet and intense man whose work on electricity, magnetism and countless other areas of enquiry helped define the next century. He even speculated on space travel like his mentor Davy, except Faraday went one further and proposed a possible means of propulsion.

A thoroughly satisfying a biography.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A flawed approach 30 Oct. 2007
By Kamran Rahman VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
It is probably quite difficult to write a book about Michael Faraday that is NOT interesting, but this comes close. In comparing this book to the many other books that have been or will be written about Michael Faraday, this book would do well if it were noticed as an amusing curiosity - a book about a scientist written by an art historian. But unfortunately even that is probably hoping for more recognition than is likely to be given to it. Faraday was a scientist and his life is of interest largely to people who approach matters in a scientific way - something that book fails to do with its own subject. True to its title, but true also to its flaw, this book dwells too much on "The Life". On the whole there is an imbalance with too detailed (and perhaps too well researched) a picture of the man, but with little depth (and perhaps too little research) about the great scientific advances he made. It is also disappointing that the author makes no effort to conceal his own leaning towards art rather than science - losing no opportunity to comment in tedious detail on every single one of Faraday's "artistic" acquantainces and experiences (and there are surprisingly many) but ultimately failing to make any meaningful connection between the man's interest in art and the many reasons why he is remembered. Clearly art played a significant part in the man's life, but at the end of this book we have no firm idea of how or why or to what extent it shaped him.

Ultimately, this is a forgettable, plodding biography with only the occassional original insight. It will be of passing, but not lasting, interest to the scientific historian or the art historian.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars precise in its details 8 Oct. 2005
Format:Paperback
I have only started reading this biography. Yet I was drawn to it from the start by the engaging style of the author. His wealth of details add to make Michael Faraday a very human person. Facts about Faraday's belief are interesting because it is through people of the same or similar belief as his that he met his mentor and support. He was encouraged, he learned fast, he attended amazing and exciting lectures. Faraday was a genius, yet very human. This biography will warm you to an extraordinary character. The engaging style will help you along get into the life of Faraday in his context. The reading is easy, but beware, it is rich too. This is pleasant to read and enriching. You'll come out of this with a deep sense of satisfaction. Buy it, curl on your bed or in your favourite armchair and enter the early 19th century London,go to the lectures with this amazing scientist who was Michael Faraday. If you want a pun on Faraday's discoveries, you shall be electrified!
A splendid buy!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fitting tribute to a scientific giant 26 Jun. 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Even if you are not particularly interested in Faraday or the development of science and technology in the 19th century, you should read this terrific book! Hamilton has produced a near perfect biography, setting Faraday's achievements in a detailed and sumptuously populated world of science, philosophy, art & politics. The research is impeccable, but Hamilton's style means that the citations and provenance never gets in the way of the inspiring story.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Insight 12 Aug. 2012
By Tudor C
Format:Kindle Edition
This book contains all you need to know about the great man. The social and family side is essential to understand the man and how he developed his ideas but it takes over at times.
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