Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and The Birth of America


Today's post is on The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and The Birth of America by Steven Johnson. It is 254 pages long and is published by Riverhead Books. The cover is red with cut outs that have different pictures in them. The intended reader is someone who is interested in natural history, scientific history, and history itself. There is no foul language, no sex, and no violence in this book. There Be Spoilers Ahead.

From the back of the book- The Invention of Air is a story of sweeping historical transformation, of genius and friendship, violence and world-changing ideas, that boldly recasts our understanding of the most significant events in our history.
It centers on the story of Joseph Priestley—scientist and minister, protégé of Benjamin Franklin, friend of Thomas Jefferson—an eighteenth-century radical thinker who played key roles in the invention of ecosystem science, the discovery of oxygen, the founding of the Unitarian church, and the intellectual development of the United States. Priestley represented a unique synthesis: by the 1780s, he had established himself as one of the world's most celebrated scientists, most prominent religious figures, and most outspoken political thinkers. Yet he would also have become one of the most hated men in all of his native England. When an angry mob burned down his house in Birmingham, Priestley and his family set sail for Pennsylvania.
In the nascent United States, Priestley hoped to find the freedom to bridge the disciplines that had governed his life, to find a quiet lab and a receptive pulpit. Once he arrived, as a result of his close relationships with the Founding Fathers—Jefferson credited Priestley as the man who prevented him from abandoning Christianity—Priestley found himself at the center of what would go down as one of the seminal debates in American history. And as Johnson brilliant charts, Priestley exerted profound if little-known influence on the shape and course of this great experiment in nation-building.

Review- Another interesting Johnson book about stuff I knew nothing about. Johnson follows Priestly from his childhood into the last minutes of his life and we get to see some very interesting things with him. Priestly gave so much to modern science that I had no idea about but even as I read it I was horrified by some of the experiments that he did but the only reason we can be horrified by the experiments if because he did them and discovered what exactly he was doing. Add in some of the most famous people of his time and you have a who's who is the 1700's. Johnson helps the modern reader to understand the hows and the whys of Priestley's time and how important it was that he be born at that time and in that place because if he was just a little off in either he would not have been the scientist he was. Very enjoyable and an excellent read. 

I give this book a Five out of Five stars. I get nothing for my review and I borrowed this book from my local library.