- Hardcover: 224 pages
- Publisher: New Holland Publishers Ltd (25 Aug. 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1847735142
- ISBN-13: 978-1847735140
- Product Dimensions: 20.7 x 2.2 x 27 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,509,172 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Scientific Feuds: From Galileo to the Human Genome Project Hardcover – 25 Aug 2010
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It's nicely written, with timelines and full-colour artwork throughout -- BBC Focus magazine, August 2010
"This book is both enjoyable and informative"
--Chemistry World, December 2010
Top Customer Reviews
The language used in the book is reasonably accessible to the lay-person, but there are a few words that may need to be looked up (there is a handy glossary at the back). For me, personally, there were one or two that I had to think about and I like to think of myself as extremely well read. Disappointingly for a science based book that does use some high brow language there are a few glaringly obvious spelling mistakes, possibly not just the authors fault, but these should have been easily picked up on during the editorial stage. The actual format also makes reading through and assimilating facts from the various cases quite difficult. This is down to the text boxes inserted throughout the main text, these are often placed in positions that break the flow of the main story, leading to the reader being forced to jump backwards and forwards through the pages.Read more ›
At the same time it is not that interesting. While it presents many fascinating stories, they are all written like wikipedia articles. They are only facts, carefully narrated but without a trace of intrigue. Such writing style is fine for some books, but I certainly didn't expect a red book with boxing Galileo to be that bland.
Apart from that there is not even a place in the book where you would say: "Wow! I certainly was not expecting that!". Two stories about Freud are more interesting but still the book is not worth buying.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)
The book is too brief and episodic to provide a thorough or scholarly history of contentious scientific disputes. Furthermore, the author occasionally lapses into bare speculation and undocumented surmise about the motives and thought processes of some of the disputants he discusses. However, the book does provide an interesting perspective on the history of science.
Readers interested in other books about how personalities, emotions, and personal interests can affect the history of medicine, mathematics, and technology might consider also taking a look at Dana Mackenzie, The Universe in Zero Words: The Story of Mathematics as Told through Equations; F. Gonzalez-Crussi, A Short History of Medicine (Modern Library Chronicles); and Robert V. Bruce, Lincoln and the Tools of War. And, readers interested in how rhetoric and argumentation have played a role in the history of science might consider also taking a look at Jeanne Fahnestock, Rhetorical Figures in Science.
Nearly all of the 26 topics chosen are important, and at one time or another most of these disputes got a lot of press, so much of this material will be familiar to technical people, still I think almost everyone will find some interesting new material here. For example I knew nothing about the disputes Freud had had with Jung and Adler in the early 1900's, the subject of two of the articles. I was unaware that Montagnier and Gallo, who I remember battled over credit for discovering the HIV retrovirus, are now friends, but only Montagnier was included in the Nobel prize. Or polio vacine guys, Sabin and Salk, do you remember which used the killed virus and which the weakened? Levy has read up on these 26 cases and generally does a good job giving a pithy and even handed summary of the dispute in a few pages, and when helpful he includes a timeline.
The disputes are grouped into four categories:
1) Earth Sciences
2) Evolution and Palaeobiology
3) Biology and Medicine
4) Physics, Astronomy and Math
Most articles start with unlabeled picture/portrait of the disputants. I finally figured that a dispute titled A vs B has A's picture left and B's right. But sometimes there is still portrait uncertainty. For example the article on who invented fingerprints for criminal identification is titled Faulds vs Galston and Herschel. There are two portraits. The left I presume is Faulds, but who is the man on the right, Galston or Herschel?
I think this book should be three stars, but as the only other reviewer gave it two stars I am giving it four to raise the average to three.
Reviewed by Dr W. P. Palmer
"Scientific feuds from Galileo to the human genome project" is what might be called a coffee table book. Looking at the pricing is instructive as paperback editions are more expensive than the hardback edition, said to be available at $2.02 new or used. It is the hardback edition that is being reviewed here. I have some criticisms of the book, but it is certainly good value at this price. The book is 224 pages long, nicely printed, with twenty-six feuds and eight features considered in very short attractively illustrated articles. A feature is used here to mean a generalized theme, such as `fraud in science' and `science and politics', which add to the books general usefulness. My dictionary defines a feud as `lasting mutual hostility' and the feuds chosen all seem to fit this definition.
Most articles contain a diagrammatic timeline summarizing the times when various events took place and these are useful. The criticism must be the lack of depth, but there is a broad sweep of science covered worldwide from the fourteenth century to the present day. The purpose of the book is to interest a wider audience than just those already interested in science's fascinating history. I enjoyed the rival publication is "Great Feuds in Science" by Hal Hellman subtitled, "Ten of the liveliest disputes ever" (already reviewed by this reviewer), where article length averaged twenty pages, but this too was criticized by others as being insufficiently detailed. For those of us who want more depth about a particular dispute, perhaps about Newton, with three of his feuds given some prominence in this book, there are numerous options such as "Never at Rest: A Biography of Isaac Newton" by Richard S. Westfall, "Isaac Newton" by James Gleick, or "Isaac Newton" by Gale E. Christianson amongst many alternatives.
The hope and purpose of books like "Scientific feuds" is that it will interest some readers sufficiently to become motivated enough to tackle some of the deeper `history of science' literature. For value and presentation, this book is recommended.