Top positive review
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Charming, but shallow.
on 12 June 2015
There is a great amount to like in this book. Francis Spufford has a very assured writing style - warm and conversational without being 'folksy', and his stories of British ambition (tempered with British failure) are told with a considerable amount of real affection. It's full of tremendous insights across a range of scientific disciplines, and I learned much from it - especially the role of Vodaphone in innovating the design of mobile phone coverage and the importance of British scientists in keeping the Human Genome project in public hands.
However, it's not a perfect book - as might be expected given the range of content, it's a wee bit on the shallow side - just as you're really getting into a chapter, it comes to an often unceremonious conclusion. A list of sources and further reading is provided, but it seems like more could have been meaningfully included in every section. It's a pretty slim book after all, and it's not as if anyone would have been suffering readers fatigue to a degree sufficient to justify cutting the tales so short.
A charming book overall, but one that you really need to view as a 'toe-dipping' overview rather than a worthy investigation in and of itself.