Monday, November 06, 2006


Thouhgtful piece in the New York Times, which argues that the traditional "great man" science biography needs rethinking because modern research is all about collaboration and orchestrated effort. (Thanks to Tom Miller for pointing this out).

I don't believe it myself (the death of biography, not the teamwork). Publishers and readers like biographies, however historiographically teeth-grinding they turn out to be. Even better if the media can create a personal opposition to portray an issue - as with Venter and Sulston over ownership of the human genome. And both now have books devoted to them.

But Peter Dizikes' piece says a lot of other interesting things, too. He also lists some scientists ripe for biographical treatment including (according to Dan Kevles) Carl Sagan. That's odd: I've read two biographies of Sagan already.

Anyway, you can read Dizikes' piece here.


Blogger Jim Endersby said...

I was planning to write a biographically based popular history of science book, but my publisher persuaded me that my thematic idea was a better one. So, I've tried to write a history of biology in which each chapter is based around an organism, with the famous humans entering as characters in the organisms' stories. You can judge for yourself whether this works when A Guinea Pig's History of Biology (William Heinemann) appears on May 24th.

6:15 AM  

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