Books - Review

Showing all books by: Simon Winchester

The Surgeon of Crowthorne
The History of the Oxford English Dictionary and one of its early contribuutors, Dr W C Minor, a mad American surgeon held in Broadmoor for murdering an innocent man.
Great. Read most of this on hols in Egypt.
Score: 8
Published: 1998
Read: July 25th 2003

The Map that Changed the World
The eponymous map, showing the geology of England, was published in 1815 by William Smith after years of working as canal builder, fossil fossicker and geologist. A self-made man, this tells the story of his life, his lifetime's work and struggle with the more established (wealthy) section of the 19th Century scientific community.
Lots of interesting history of science stuff, mixed up with social history and a fascinating tale.
Score: 7
Published: 2001
Read: November 30th 2010

The story of the 1883 explosion of Krakatoa, covering the geology and the resulting impact on the world.
I would have liked to have split this score in two - I'd give him 9 for content and 4 for presentation. There is loads of fascinating geology, historical background and interesting characters and anecdotes. But his style! He seems to revel in making things sound more complicated than they are, and the diagrams were all virtually useless. Even the maps were of that type where it takes you 5 minutes to work out what's sea and what's land. Still - good overall.
Score: 7.5
Published: 2003
Read: September 8th 2012

The story of the development of precision engineering, from making cylinders for steam engines to the Hubble space telescope.
Very good. Lots of science, history and character portraits of obsessive engineers.
Score: 8.5
Published: 2018
Read: April 28th 2019