Bynum’s book is not an exciting read - rather it is a survey of the people (and some events) that have defined science from its earliest beginnings in Babylon, China, India, etc., through the modern era. The reader gets little of the sense of excitement felt as the ideas contributed by the great men of science built upon each other’s discoveries year after year, decade after decade.
I felt as if I was reading an overly long encyclopedia entry. The book provided a glimpse at the people who contributed to various fields of scientific inquiry, but more complete research would be needed to really understand the history of science. For example, as the early history of Chinese science was discussed, I found myself opening up Google to discover more about the Great Chinese Wall and the Grand Canal of China.
As people were mentioned, there was little focus on the actual science. Though the book provided a helpful timeline to explore the history of science, it did little to help the reader see the connections between the milestones that defined its progression. Thus, though the book came from a major university press, I found the writing more suitable for a high school or liberal arts audience than a readership with a more specialized scientific training.
This review is based on a free electronic copy of this book provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are mine alone.