Science: A Four Thousand Year History by Patricia Fara

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Science: A Four Thousand Year History by Patricia Fara
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Genre: Popular Science
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: A definitive history of science that strikes the perfect tone. It's interesting, informative, and will make a wonderful addition to any bookshelf. Highly recommended. Patricia Fara was also kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 432 Date: March 2009
Publisher: Oxford University Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0199226894

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From Ancient Babylon to the present day, Patricia Fara presents a definitive history of science. It's wide-ranging enough to cover simply everything you could hope it would, whilst being in-depth enough so that you gain a sufficient understanding of the science and the people involved. It serves as a simple reference guide for the layperson - it's riddled with information, whilst also being perfectly readable as a 'biography of science'. If you ever wanted to know anything about the history of science, this is the book for you.

Fara makes an important choice early on: this isn't just a case of tracing the obvious path of incorrect conclusions to what we know now. This is a history of all that science was at the time throughout the years. Modern astrologers rightly have no place in a history of science, but ancient astrologers are viewed within the context of their time. They were the scientists of their day, working with the limited information they had.

A similarly sophisticated assessment is made when looking at other cultures. Fara draws intelligent conclusions about why Arabic and Chinese science in particular took the paths they did. It's thought-provoking, but also clicks into place so perfectly that it seems as if it's just common-sense. Throughout the book, Fara weaves comment and conclusion with the history itself, in perfect balance. It's consistently informative and never feels like you're being over-whelmed with information.

Heading into the modern era, the more complicated scientific principles are presented in an accessible and understandable way. Many science books run the risk of going over people's heads, but not so here. Each chapter brings greater understanding of science, and helped fill in many of the gaps in my knowledge.

Science: A Four Thousand Year History is faultless. It's almost a case of taking for granted just how good it is: it says it's a history of science and is a history of science. Job done. But it achieves so much more than that. It would have been so very easy for it to be dry, to be too lightweight, to be too sparse, to be too long. It's none of these. The tone is absolutely spot on. If it sounds like it would appeal to you in the slightest, then it's definitely the book for you. Highly recommended.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

The Ten Most Beautiful Experiments by George Johnson is a more specialised look at the history of science, and equally highly recommended. For a look to the future, check out The Design of Future Things by Donald Norman.

Bookinterviews.jpg Patricia Fara was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.

Booklists.jpg Science: A Four Thousand Year History by Patricia Fara is in the Top Ten Books For The Defenders Of Reason.
Buy Science: A Four Thousand Year History by Patricia Fara at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Science: A Four Thousand Year History by Patricia Fara at Amazon.


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