A World on Fire: A Heretic, an Aristocrat, and the Race to Discover Oxygen

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9780143038832: A World on Fire: A Heretic, an Aristocrat, and the Race to Discover Oxygen

Like Charles Seife’s Zero and Dava Sobel’s Longitude, this passionate intellectual history is the story of the intersection of science and the human, in this case the rivals who discovered oxygen in the late 1700s. That breakthrough changed the world as radically as those of Newton and Darwin but was at first eclipsed by revolution and reaction. In chronicling the triumph and ruin of the English freethinker Joseph Priestley and the French nobleman Antoine Lavoisier—the former exiled, the latter executed on the guillotine—A World on Fire illustrates the perilous place of science in an age of unreason.

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About the Author:

Joe Jackson is the author of four works of nonfiction and a novel. He was an investigative reporter for the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot for 12 years, covering criminal justice and the state’s death row. He lives in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He can be reached through his website, joejacksonbooks.com.

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*Starred Review* In the shared riddle of the "pure air" that allowed enclosed mice to live and covered candles to flame high, Jackson locates the thread linking the lives of a Frenchman who lost his life because of his ties to the ancien regime and that of an Englishman who lost his home because of his support for new ecclesiastical and political liberties. Ironically, the English champion of new theological and political ideas stubbornly clung to an outmoded science in trying to explain the substance he had isolated, while it was the French aristocrat who formulated the revolutionary new concepts that explained that strange substance. Jackson deftly recounts both the scientific triumphs and political tragedies that define the lives of Joseph Priestley and Antoine Lavoisier. Readers see--procedure by procedure--the experiments that turned a bit of mercuric oxide and one brilliant candle into a puzzling riddle for Priestley, and they witness the intellectual daring of Lavoisier in solving that riddle by repeating the British researcher's work with quantitative precision and a theoretically lucid new nomenclature. But readers also see the piquant personalities and turbulent social circumstances behind the science: a man so solicitous of his fellow creatures that he tries to revive suffocated mice is himself despoiled by mobs who regard him as a dangerous monster; a man who adheres to truth so assiduously that he measures it grain by painstaking grain falls victim to Jacobins who see in him a cheat and liar. A probing composite portrait of two martyrs for science. Bryce Christensen
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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Annotated edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. Like Charles Seife s Zero and Dava Sobel s Longitude, this passionate intellectual history is the story of the intersection of science and the human, in this case the rivals who discovered oxygen in the late 1700s. That breakthrough changed the world as radically as those of Newton and Darwin but was at first eclipsed by revolution and reaction. In chronicling the triumph and ruin of the English freethinker Joseph Priestley and the French nobleman Antoine Lavoisier--the former exiled, the latter executed on the guillotine--A World on Fire illustrates the perilous place of science in an age of unreason. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780143038832

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Book Description Penguin Putnam Inc, United States, 2007. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Annotated edition. Language: English . Brand New Book. Like Charles Seife s Zero and Dava Sobel s Longitude, this passionate intellectual history is the story of the intersection of science and the human, in this case the rivals who discovered oxygen in the late 1700s. That breakthrough changed the world as radically as those of Newton and Darwin but was at first eclipsed by revolution and reaction. In chronicling the triumph and ruin of the English freethinker Joseph Priestley and the French nobleman Antoine Lavoisier--the former exiled, the latter executed on the guillotine--A World on Fire illustrates the perilous place of science in an age of unreason. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780143038832

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