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Posted September 28, 2010
What I find most interesting about anecdotes like the ones in Accidental Genius is the human interest angle, not necessarily the scientific work - the admirable tenacity of individuals, their unwavering belief in the value of their work (usually in the face of a majority of naysayers), and then the serendipitous events that lead to their discoveries. While the chance element to each of these stories is highlighted and certainly adds excitement, Gaughan reminds readers that those serendipitous moments would either have not had the impact they did, if any at all, without the discoverers' mix of persistence and curiosity. No matter how familiar the reader is with the material covered - and there is plenty; the book spans many centuries - she will find the anecdotes accessible and entertaining, thanks to Gaughan's deft pacing and unobtrusive humor. He brings the stories and people to life, often adding nice touches of personal elements that present the discoverer as a person first, scientist second. I especially found the stories about Carothers and Newton particularly insightful.
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