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Lavoisier in the Year One: The Birth of a New Science in an Age of Revolution (Great Discoveries)

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  89 Ratings  ·  10 Reviews
ANTOINE LAVOISIER--who lived at the zenith of the Enlightenment and died at the hands of the Revolution--was himself a revolutionary. Closely followed by the burgeoning international scientific community, he competed with the best minds of his time of be the first to explain how chemical processes really work. Aided by a large fortune and his accomplished wife, he employed ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published June 1st 2005 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 2005)
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David R.
Lavoisier is an interesting figure during both the scientific Enlightenment and the French Revolution, but Bell doesn't quite pull off a compelling story.
Aug 27, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Fictionalist Smartt Bell has written not so much a biography (he is a sense a strict behaviorist, presenting little of the scientist's inner life) or intellectual history (though there are some aspects of that) as a morality tale in which Lavosier's eminent reasonableness, exactitude, and genius square off against the forces of madness - an hagiography of a martyr for good sense. Bell joins scientific and political evil in the villainous figure of Marat who, bitter that Lavosier has exposed his ...more
Mar 02, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: chemists
Too much technical data about this study versus a study done by some other guy, which led to this discovery, which led to this study ....
Not enough biography or an assessment of where Laviosier fits in to the whole study of chemistry overall. There was some interesting stuff in there, and it made a good book to follow 'The Lost King of France.' But not quite what I was hoping for.
Lavoisier is one of the fathers of modern chemistry. He did pioneering work on the discovery of oxygen, knocked down the phlogistan theory, and modernized chemical nomenclature. He was wealthy and held key posts in the government before losing his head in the Terror. This should be an interesting story, but I found this book pretty dull. Too much trees and not enough forest.
This book probably ought to be called "A brief survey of Lavoisier's life, the origins of modern chemistry, the French Revolution, and some interesting scientific rivalries," but that'd be a bit wordy. That just about covers it, though: it's a nice little survey and a quick read.

Some bad copy editing errors (e.g, "Versaille" instead of "Versailles"). Ouch.
Mar 31, 2013 rated it it was ok
Pretty disappointing. It's a quick read and a good introduction, but it mostly falls flat. I like the structure separating the scientific and political dimensions of the story, but that is the extent of my appreciation. I imagine that the point of the Great Discovery series is to enliven science writing. This reads like a book report.
Dec 01, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who need to hate books
Shelves: non-fiction
As much as I respect what he did, I couldn't help but wish he had been guillotined earlier in the year as I read this book. I finished it because it was a quick read at least.
Dec 13, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recounts the interesting life of Lavoisier.
Claire S
Hmmm.. should atleast skim this year while my daughter is taking Chemistry.
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Madison Smartt Bell is a critically acclaimed writer of more than a dozen novels and story collections, as well as numerous essays and reviews for publications such as Harper’s and the New York Times Book Review. His books have been finalists for both the National Book Award and the PEN/Faulkner Award, among other honors. Bell has also taught at distinguished creative writing programs including th ...more
More about Madison Smartt Bell...

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