books, books, books

Today, I got a copy of Dava Sobel’s new book The Planets. The neat thing about it is, it won’t be released until October 11; I got an advanced proof copy from eBay for $.99 plus $2.50 shipping. I hope to finish it and post a review before it come out.

I was supposed to have read both of Sobel’s previous best-sellers, Longitude and Galileo’s Daughter, for history of science classes. I’ve skipped very little reading for any history of science classes, but those two I happened not to read, although I have both. Longitude I just forgot to buy, and by the time it came up on the syllabus I was too busy to find it. Galileo’s Daughter I read a little bit of, but either lost interest or just procrastinated too long. I don’t remember what I thought of it, but I’m looking forward to this new book; Sobel is widely acknowledged as an excellent writer. Soon I’ll be able to judge for myself (and for anyone who happens to read my review).

I’m also looking forward to read the four short articles that comprise the Focus section (entitled “The Generalist Vision in the History of Science”) of the new issue of Isis; all the authors are very prominent historians of science, and I’ve read and enjoyed the work of three of them in the past year (Robert Kohler, Steven Shapin, and Paula Findlen). And two of them (Kohler and Shapin) gave HSHM colloquia last year. Shapin was great to talk to (although his talk was not so great), and Kohler was also pretty interesting (even though he didn’t seem too impressed with my painting inspired by his book). Generalist history of science is what I’m all about (and tangentially, it’s what I wrote my paper about in “Intro to History of Science” last semester), so maybe these articles will inspire me further.

I’m almost done with Mary Terrall’s great Maupertuis book that we read half of last semester. I plan to seriously update his Wikipedia entry once I finish; currently it’s just straight from the 1911 Encyclopedia Brittanica (which is out of copyright), and hardly does Maupertuis justice.

Reading: The Man Who Flattened the Earth