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The Metaphysical Club by Louis Menand
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's review
Sep 12, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: grad-school
Read from September 03 to 11, 2011


I really did like this book. While it was pretty dense in some parts, it was fascinating in other aspects. This is a quadruple biography smushed into a larger biography of how science & the scientific community came to be in the USA during the post-Civil War era. I skimmed the last few chapters and hope to one day go back and take my time with them. I am a bit of science history geek.

The most fascinating aspect of the book was not just the theme of how personal biases influenced how science was being framed (I believe the purpose of this book being assigned), but how those personal biases were reflections of how people felt about slavery, African-Americans and immigration during the late 1800s. It was especially fab to read about the differences in how Northerners felt about slavery, abolitionists and Southerners.

The downside of the book is that you get a mini-biography for almost every minor character that just bogged down the book, including the fathers of each of the main characters. TMI!

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Reading Progress

09/06/2011 page 182
33.0% "Slow going here!"
09/11/2011 page 360
64.0% "I need to finish by tomorrow at 3pm! ACK!!!"

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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Clif I love that word smushed! :) As for the pulling in of all the extra folks including fathers, Menard is trying to find out how the thoughts that make up the philosophies of the main characters came to be - and we all know how important (often overwhelming) the ideas of parents can be for their kids. I'd say it is a major task of intellectual life to break out of the mold provided by parents. Most don't even try.

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