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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Caldwell, Ian; Thomason, Dustin: The Rule of Four | Main | Nohain, Jean: Le Petomane »

Lindley, David: Degrees Kelvin

  

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Joseph Henry Press © 2004, 352 pages [amazon]
3.5 stars

British physicist Sir William Thomson, better known to history as Lord Kelvin, was among the most brilliant scientists of the 19th century. Already a published author upon his arrival at Cambridge as an undergraduate (in 1841), Thomson went on to a distinguished career during which he made advances in the studies of electricity and magnetism, heat and light,  as well as establishing the existence of an absolute zero--the work with which he is probably most readily identified. But Thomson was, above all else, a practical thinker who most enjoyed applying scientific principles to the solution of real-life problems. Thus, while involved in the various attempts that were made to lay the first transatlantic telegraph cable, Thomson invented the mirror galvanometer, a more sensitive instrument for receiving electronic pulses than had previously been available. Likewise, Thomson's interest in sailing led to his invention of sounding machines for aid in navigation and the design of a more reliable naval compass.

Thomson was involved in the particulars of William's life and early career to a degree that must have been maddening to the young man.Lindley's account of Thomson's life and career alternates in the telling between discussions of science and of personality. The former will be appreciated by readers with some scientific background, but Lindley does not dumb down his technical discussions sufficiently for the aid of the general reader. Far more accessible is Lindley's discussion of Kelvin's life outside of the laboratory, as for example his account of the subtle battle between the young William and his somewhat domineering father James--over the former's expenses, attentiveness to school work, social contacts, moral  probity, exercise, conduct of professional relationships, and so on. James Thomson was involved in the particulars of William's life and early career to a degree that must have been maddening to the young man. (Much of their struggle revolved around a position that opened at Glasgow University, where James Thomson was a professor of mathematics. James wanted desperately for his son to work at the University. William got the position, at the age of 22, and stayed there for more than fifty years.) There are, too, rewarding accounts of the various luminaries with whom Thomson came into contact, such as the autodidact Michael Faraday (whose accomplishments and personality have clearly impressed the author).

Lindley frames his biography with a discussion of the unfortunate fact of Kelvin's career that he became in his later life something of a dinosaur, clinging stubbornly to antiquated ideas--such as an upper age for the earth of a mere 100 million years--while science advanced around him. Celebrated in his life, Kelvin has suffered a posthumous diminution of reputation. Such is the "tragedy" of Lindley's subtitle ("A Tale of Genius, Invention, and Tragedy"), but it is overstated. Kelvin's life was filled with frenetic, joyous work on projects that fascinated him, and he was appreciated during his lifetime for his contributions. If in some areas Kelvin's conclusions were wrongheaded, he was yet responsible for substantial scientific advances. He seems to have been a wholly fascinating figure, and Lindley does a service in making his story available to readers.

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.