Top critical review
34 people found this helpful
on 10 July 2011
I really enjoyed reading this book which covers the life of James Clerk Maxwell, the man famous for his equations that tied together electricity and magnetism to create formulae for electro-magnetic radiation including light. The book covered his life and his science and made me aware of just how much more he had contributed in addition to these famous equations. As it goes through his life it gives you enough to understand what he did, where he did it, and with who etc.. And it's a nice length too.
But a few disappointments. Firstly there was some maths in there, but not enough to really understand (unless I suspect you had already done it at University). So we are introduced for example to curl. The author makes a valiant attempt to describe what this means, but for me ultimately he fails -- there just isn't quite enough to "get it". And even with repeated recourse to Wiki, I'm still not sure I've quite got it. So either more maths and diagrams or less.
Secondly there is nothing bad said about him. I could just about live with this until I read the authors comments about his wife. There, despite the fact that everyone seems not to have liked her, the author refrains from that conclusion, preferring to question the reliability of the sources of criticism. So I have to conclude that Dr Mahon is rather biased and blind to any faults Maxwell may have had. In the Authors mind it seems Maxwell can do no wrong.
Thirdly most of the notes should have been in the text. All were interesting so no need to relegate them to the end
And lastly I do wish he referred to Maxwell and not to James. I've just read a biography of Einstein and I can't imagine anyone referring to Albert all the way through. So I found "James this" and "James that" way to informal, and rather irritating -- but then that is a personal preference.