Books  Natural History  History of Science 

The Invention of Air: An Experiment, a Journey, a New Country and the Amazing Force of Scientific Discovery

By: Steven Johnson

276 pages, b/w illustrations

Penguin Books

Paperback | Oct 2009 | #182506 | ISBN-13: 9780141044354
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £9.99 $13/€11 approx

About this book

In 1794, Joseph Priestley--amateur scientist, ordained minister and radical thinker--set sail for America to escape persecution. The author tells his incredible story: the discovery of oxygen, the invention of a science, the founding of a church, and, with the great minds of his time, the development of the United States itself.

But Priestley's revolutionary ideas put him in terrible danger. Johnson uses the progress of Priestley and his colleagues not merely to describe the wonder of discovery, but to show us how we have come to understand the world, how far we have travelled with the power of human enquiry--and how one man's curiosity can help build an entire country.

A shot of the purest oxygen
- Simon Winchester

"It fizzes"
- John Gapper FT

"Entertaining ... clear-sighted and intelligent"
- The New Yorker

"[Johnson is] an infectiously exciting writer ... 'The Invention of Air' is delightful to read"
- Salon

"Packed with excellent stuff"
- Russell Davies

"Johnson paints Priestley not as a man of the past but precisely the sort of figure the world needs more than ever"
- New York Post

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Steven Johnson is the author of the acclaimed books "Everything Bad is Good for You", "The Ghost Map", "Mind Wide Open", "Emergence and Interface Culture".

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