Tag Archive for: Review

Washington Post “New in Paperback” Column

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.

“Impressive, Engaging, Valuable” — Choice

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.

“Great Book for Anyone Interested in the History of Science” — Citizen Science League

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.

New Review of “Il club dei filosofi che volevano cambiare il mondo”

A review of the Italian edition of The Philosophical Breakfast Club has appeared in the November issue of RAS: Rassegna Dell’Autonomia Scholastica:

“It is a novel-like book that one reads with pleasure . . . with the desire to prolong the pleasure of following the lives of the four scientists involved.”

You can read the review here.

“Succeeds Famously in Evoking the Excitement, Variety and Wide-Open Sense of Possibility of the Scientific Life in 19th Century Britain” — American Scientist

A wonderful review just out in American Scientist!!

“In Snyder’s able hands, the intertwined lives of the four Cambridge friends become the stuff of a Trollope novel. . . . she deftly interweaves snippets from the letters with lucid explanations of the science involved and with scenes from 19th-century British life. . . . Focusing on the correspondence also allows Snyder to blend intellectual and family registers, just as her protagonists did in their letters. She is alert to nuance and sensitive to what is unsaid as well as said. . . . Snyder succeeds famously in evoking the excitement, variety and wide-open sense of possibility of the scientific life in 19th-century Britain . . . splendidly evoked in this engaging book.”

The review itself is long, beautifully written, and filled with tidbits from the book; it can be read here.

The review is by Lorraine Daston, historian of science and Executive Director of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science in Berlin.

An “Extraordinary Book” — Metapsychology

A lovely new review of The Philosophical Breakfast Club in Metapsychology:

An “extraordinary book….Snyder takes us from the early meetings through the careers and marriages of the four and to the end of their amazing lives. The narrative sparkles with personal details, political fights, love, brilliant discoveries, hard work, science and math, always focusing on the four protagonists.”

Read the full review here.

“A Vivid Picture of a Revolution in Scientific Thought” — Fully Booked

It was great to see this review in Fully Booked Zine, published in the Philippines:

“Snyder paints a vivid picture of a revolution in scientific thought. . . . Its portrayal of a world and time much different from our own is remarkable, and Snyder spares no expense in immersing the reader into the world that produced these natural philosophers.”

Read the full review here.

“Utterly compelling . . . a living, breathing page-turner!” — Michael Croucher

A wonderful review from Michael Croucher of Walking Randomly (and Manchester University):

“I found Snyder’s combination of biography, history and science to be utterly compelling . . . so much so that during my time reading it, my beloved iPad stayed at home, lonely and forgotten, while I undertook my daily commute. This is no dry treatise on nineteenth century science; instead it is a living, breathing page-turner about a group of very colourful individuals who lived in a time where science was done rather differently from how it is practiced today. . . . Who would have thought that a group of nineteenth century geeks could form the basis of one of the best books I’ve read all year?”

For the full review, see here.

★ Starred Review from Science Books and Films

The Philosophical Breakfast Club received a starred review from Science Books and Films, a magazine of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

“A unique view of the background and times in which these men lived, and a peek at the implications that their work and philosophy had on today’s modern science.”

I love that the magazine included an image of the book’s cover that takes up 2/3 of the page! It’s the only book with such a large spread—kudos to the jacket designer, Evan Gaffney, for creating a cover that no one can resist!

Subscribers can read the full review here.

“Snyder smoothly and meticulously tells this story of intellectual revolution and triumph” — Providence Journal

I am so happy to see such a great review coming out in this Sunday’s Providence Journal. I especially like how the reviewer highlights one of the main messages of the book:

“All four led the evolution of natural philosophy (then practiced as an avocation by gentlemen of means and sometimes genius) to modern science as practiced by professional scientists.”

The reviewer also had this to say:

“Laura J. Snyder in The Philosophical Breakfast Club smoothly and meticulously tells this complicated story of intellectual revolution and triumph in Victorian England: The ancient Royal Society, the gem of the Enlightenment turned into an aristocratic ‘rotten borough,’ is pushed aside by the new British Association for the Advancement of Science. Whewell’s writings on inductive reasoning open the way for the success of Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. Jones’ inductive economics aces the forecasts of doom from Malthus and Ricardo. And Babbage invents the Analytical Engine, a programmed mechanical prototype of today’s electronic computer.

“Along the way, Snyder provides much interesting social and historic detail. . . . Great scientists have walk-on parts in every chapter.”

Read the full review here.