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The first thing to say is that the book is beautiful. The illustrations are lavish and inspiring much of the time...

Sid Nuncius book reviews

Brian Clegg

From carvings and scrolls to glossy bound tomes, this book beautifully illustrates the evolution of scientific communication to the world.

By recounting the history of science via its key works – those books written by the keenest minds our world has known – this book reflects the physical results of brilliant thought manifested in titles that literally changed the course of knowledge.

The book is divided into five eras and explores the leading scientific pioneers, discoveries and books within them:

  • Ancient World – looks at the beginnings of language, plus the first ever scientific documents produced and translated
  • Renaissance in Print – explores the effects of the invention of the printing press and the exploration of the seas and skies
  • Modern Classical – surveys the nineteenth century and the development of science as a profession
  • Post-Classical – dissects the twentieth century and the introduction of relativity, quantum theory and genetics
  • The Next Generation – reviews the period from 1980 to the modern day, showing how science has become accessible to the general public
Plus an introduction to the history and development of writing and books in general, and a list of 150 great science books.

Note for pedants - I know that the title doesn't make sense in Latin, but the publishers insisted.

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Reviews

'I like Scientifica Historica very much… The first thing to say is that the book is beautiful. The illustrations are lavish and inspiring much of the time – especially for me, seeing original scripts from millennia ago and handwritten notes by some deeply revered scientists but also pages and covers from great books. This makes it more of an introduction and a coffee table book than an in-depth work on the historiography of science, but that’s just fine because it fits that role very well… So, as an enticing introduction to some of the great (and in my view some not so great!) books of science, this works very well and I can recommend it.' Sid Nuncius's book reviews

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