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The Endless Quest: Three Thousand Years of Science

Abstract

IT is very difficult to review such a book as this—or perhaps we should say “this book”, for there can scarcely be another such. Judged by the aim which the title suggests it is, of course, a failure: to deal adequately with 3,000 years of science in a single volume is a sheer impossibility. The impossibility is, in fact, so obvious that such a judgment would clearly be absurd. We can only take the book as an isolated phenomenon and record its effect on a mind freed from preoccupation with ideas of what it should be. When this attitude is adopted, the result is wholly pleasurable. The author talks to us out of a vast store of knowledge in a manner which, subject to a broad classification on a chronological and subject basis, is delightfully informal. Biographical notes, descriptions of scientific institutions, quotations, expositions, criticisms, reflections mix with one another in the most casual way, and it is hard to imagine a more satisfying book into which to dip at those not infrequently occurring intervals which are too brief for systematic work and too long to be wasted. Photographs and diagrams are numerous and excellent; there are questions for the problem-minded and bibliographies for those who wish to pursue the subjects raised; and there is a good index.

The Endless Quest: Three Thousand Years of Science.

By F. W. Westaway. Pp. xx + 1080 + 51 plates; (London, Glasgow and Bombay: Blackie and.Son, Ltd., 1934.) 21s. net.

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