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

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

by Madison Smartt Bell

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“Fresh . . . solid . . . full of suspense and intrigue.”—Publishers WeeklySee more details below


“Fresh . . . solid . . . full of suspense and intrigue.”—Publishers Weekly

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Novelist Bell (The Stone That the Builder Refused, etc.) knows a good story when he sees it: the life of French scientist Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794) is full of suspense and intrigue set against a backdrop of war and revolution. Lavoisier, best known for having "discovered" oxygen, was arguably one of the most brilliant scientific minds of the Enlightenment, helping to lay the foundation for our modern understanding of chemistry. He was also a wise investor, amassing a substantial personal fortune by buying into the privatized French tax system-which eventually placed him on the wrong side of the French Revolution and at the foot of the guillotine. This account works best as the story of a well-intentioned and honorable man caught up in events beyond the comprehension of his formidable intellect, and Bell uses his novelistic skills in the service of narrative and character to keep Lavoisier's story fresh. When Bell detours into the history of chemistry, the writing drags. This solid if uneven book will appeal most to readers interested in the vibrant life and tragic death of a key figure in the history of science. 8 illus. not seen by PW. Agent, Jane Gelfman. (June) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Antoine Lavoisier is often credited as the founder of modern chemistry. Born into a French middle-class family in 1742, formally educated in law, but intensely interested in science, he held several government positions and, naturally, was involved with the French Academy of Science. Tragically, at the peak of his scientific powers, Lavoisier became a victim of the Reign of Terror when his government activities led to his beheading in 1794. Turning from the Haitian slave rebellion depicted in his trilogy of novels (All Souls' Rising, Master of the Crossroads, The Stone That the Builder Refused), Bell addresses the French Revolution (which inspired the rebellion) and Lavoisier's role in his first major work of nonfiction. Bell does an admirable job of interlinking all the complexities of Lavoisier's life and circumstances as they collided with a social and political revolution that had gone out of control. He also paints an excellent portrait of 18th-century scientific culture, with its national and individual rivalries. This book will appeal to readers interested in the history of science and the French Revolution. Recommended for high school and public libraries as well as general academic collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/05.]-Margaret F. Dominy, Drexel Univ. Lib., Philadelphia Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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Product Details

Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
Great Discoveries
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
File size:
1 MB

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