As at home with Galileo and his daughter in Florence as he is with Diderot in Enlightenment France, William and Alice James in fin-de-siècle Boston, or the latest research on the genome, Gerald Weissmann distills the lessons of history to guide us through our troubled age. His message is clear: "Experimental science is our defense - perhaps our best defense - against humbug and the Endarkenment."
This book is supposed to be a warning about the coming Endarkenment, the process by which religion is returning society to the pre-Enlightenment era and there are passages, which are persuasive. As a project though, it feels like an awkward mix between the polemic he wanted to write and the science anecdotes his editor insisted on.
The book leaps, with apparent unconcern, between the Endarkenment argument, side-tracks about his mentors the history of rheumatology and other unconnected musings.
Individually any one passage of this book is interesting; together it makes the large and eventually insupportable assumption that the reader/ listener is prepared to sit back and let him ramble, without narrative or end in sight.
Sadly, despite the underlying theme of science-writing as a tool for combating the invidious slip away from Reason, this book ultimately is an argument for a separation between research scientists and the publishing community.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful
The premise of this book was interesting - a history of the development of the biologically related sciences including psychoanalysis, immunology and rheumatology. There are, in fact, some very intersting passages. However, the price to pay to get to these sections is, in my opinion, too high. The author has a way of writing that quickly makes you forget the main point of his story. He provides too much pointless trivia (eg the undergraduate major and school of one of the co-authors of a paper) that the story is very confusing. I had to relisten to many sections to understand his points or remind myself what on earth he was telling me about. He also provides long quotes in latin and french then follows with an equally lengthy verbatim translation - there is no point to this.
His writing style also makes you work in that he will start a new section by writing about 'he' but won't tell you who 'he' is for several lines or paragraphs. A very annoying style for this type of book.
There may be some very interesting facts and stories in this book but after having fought my way through it, I can't seem to remember a single story..
4 of 6 people found this review helpful