I just received my Cambridge University alumni bulletin, and was happily surprised to find The Philosophical Breakfast Club on the list of “Cambridge Authors: Summer Reading Selection 2012,” joining books by Stephen Fry, Andrew Preston, Simon Sebag Montefiore, Ian Tattersall, Claire Tomalin, and other Cambridge faculty/alumni. Still time to get your last bit of summer reading in. . . .
What readers are saying about my books
I was happy to see The Philosophical Breakfast Club featured in the summer edition of my undergraduate university’s magazine on their summer reading bookshelf. It’s right under the book by a terrific historian on the faculty, David Hackett Fischer! There’s a nice little paragraph on the book, which you can see here.
Every year, the Royal Institution of Australia (whose wonderful motto is: “Bringing Science to People and People to Science”) sponsor Australia’s “Great Big Science Read,” where people are encouraged to read books—both fiction and non-fiction—having to do with science. Last year, the RiAus held a poll to choose the public’s “Favorite Science Book”—and The Philosophical Breakfast Club was the winner!
The RiAus has just put out a short list of some books recommended by “Some of Australia’s leading scientists and the RiAus Book Club” as suggestions for this year’s Great Science Read. I’m so pleased to see The Philosophical Breakfast Club on that list, and look forward to hearing from some new Australian readers!
A very nice review of The Philosophical Breakfast Club just appeared in ISIS, the journal of the History of Science Society:
“The Philosophical Breakfast Club is a beautifully written and elegantly composed story. . . . [The book] presents a wonderful portrait of science and university life in the period—the trials and tribulations of trying to be a scientist before professionalization. It nicely evokes the broad interdisciplinary that was taken for granted then and is so rare now. Its contextualization of the first half of the nineteenth century in Britain is outstanding, and it is highly successful in showing the deep intertwining of culture and society with the club members’ work. . . .
“This book will be extremely useful for teaching, students, and interested laypeople. It would be an excellent text for a survey of modern science, a science and society class, or even a course on the history of Britain. . . .”
A nice new review from the website Astrobites. I love how it ends:
“One might have thought Victorian men of science would be impossibly staid and boring—a misconception that The Philosophical Breakfast Club will surely dislodge in short order. I struggled to put the book down.”
A wonderful new review by Judy King of Story Circle Book Reviews, a website devoted to reviews of books “by, for and about women.”
“In The Philosophical Breakfast Club, Laura J. Snyder has written a brilliant book. Pure and simple. It is the story of the birth of ‘the scientist,’ both the term itself, and the concept of a professional person dedicated to the scientific study of a particular subject. . . . The numerous accomplishments and contributions of the four men would be too many to list in a brief review of the book. Suffice to say that our world would bear no resemblance at all to what we are used to if they had not been so broadly engaged in the applications of science, as well as its study. . . . A highly engaging study.”
You can read the full review here.
I’ve just checked in to The Philosophical Breakfast Club’s page on Amazon.com, and was happy to see that in the last couple of days I’ve received four new reviews—all five-star reviews. The titles of the reviews are great: “Brilliant Book!” “Intellectual Feast,” “Four Friends and How They Kickstarted Modern Science,” and the very sweet and succinct “Thank You So Much.” Once again, I am very grateful to readers who take the time to write reviews and post them up on the Amazon site and elsewhere. Thank you all! Read the reviews here.
The paperback has been selling very briskly—my publisher is thrilled! In fact, Amazon.com just ran out of their copies. But the book will be back in stock on April 6, and is still available at BN.com and, of course, your local independent bookseller.
I was happy to see that The Philosophical Breakfast Club made it onto the Washington Post “New in Paperback” column!
You can read the story here.
A wonderful review from Choice, the review magazine of the American Library Association:
“An impressive biography of four Victorian polymaths. . . . The men’s entangled lives and work make engaging and informative reading. A valuable book. . . . Highly recommended.”
The complete review:
Philosopher and science historian Snyder (St. John’s Univ.) has written an impressive biography of four Victorian polymaths: William Whewell, Charles Babbage, John Herschel, and Richard Jones. Their individual achievements are remarkable. Herschel made important contributions in astronomy, including mapping southern stars and discovering Uranus, and in photography. Babbage worked on a mechanical computer and its mathematics, and Jones authored books on economic theory and English government economic policy. Whewell made wide-ranging contributions in astronomical and mineralogical studies and educational reforms. He also wrote major philosophical works on the history and philosophy of the “inductive sciences,” integrating his theology and ethical notions into science (both he and Babbage contributed Bridgewater treatises on science and religion), and influenced Lyell, Maxwell, and Darwin in important ways. The collaborations of these remarkable men in economics, science, mathematics, and social policy, particularly their development of institutional reform—notably their formation of the British Association for the Advancement of Science—virtually created the “profession” of science with its institutions, curricula, norms, and methods. Whewell coined the term “scientist” and provided Faraday and others with terminology for their discoveries. The men’s entangled lives and work make engaging and informative reading. A valuable book for all undergraduate libraries. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All academic, professional, and general readers. Copyright 2011 American Library Association.
It was great to see this new review on the website of the Citizen Scientists League.
“A very accessible history of British science in the early nineteenth century. . . . Snyder brings us from the early days of natural philosophy, which looked nothing like what we would call science today, to the verge of the modern era where the word scientist was well known, where scientists would actually get paid for doing science, where the government began supporting scientific inquiry and science was beginning to be taught as a separate topic at universities. . . . This is a great book for anyone who is interested in the history of science.”
Read the full review here.