THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS
delivers a triple whammy with this elegant history of technology,
acute cultural chronicle and riveting intellectual adventure
[He] convincingly argues that science and self-knowledge are matters
of inference, and by extension prone to error."
Weekly (starred review)
* * *
excellent.... [A] wonderful and endlessly fascinating book."
Simon Winchester, The [Toronto] Globe and Mail
audiences ... will be fascinated by the surprisingly colorful history
of the seemingly mundane metric system."
* * *
fascinating account of how the meter became the meter
in the vein of Dava Sobel's Longitude and reading like a historical
* * *
Alder has written nearly 400 pages on the history of the metric
system. Believe it or not, these are enthralling, fascinating, even
- yes - mind-altering pages.... Alder is as meticulous a historian
as Delambre and Mechain were astronomers. His book is dense and
careful, but he maintains the story of his two protagonists, and
the true hero of the book, the meter. And that is the best part
of his book: Alder never forgets that he's telling a story, and
he imbues the narrative with a tremulous, fever-soaked climax and
a lengthy and satisfying denouement."
Doerr, in The Boston Globe, Sunday Book Review
highly original new book.... [A] journey worth taking..., graced
by a vividly descriptive sense of place. [It] bathes the past in
the light, life and humanity of the eternal present."
Timothy Ferris, New York Times Book Review, cover review
the drama of a novel..., The Measure of All Things is far more than
history-of-science examination of geography and astonomy."
Gottshall, The Indianapolis Star
vivid prose, in a narrative brimming with humanity..., Ken Alder
brings to life [this] fascinating story.... Told by a master story-teller
and lover of history, this is a tale to savored slowly.... This
is one of those rare works that both rewrite history and capture
Foster Winans, The Philadelphia Inquirer
the U.K. and Ireland:
by the The Sunday Times (London) as a book "You really
Alder has transformed [this history] into one of the most gripping
stories that the history of science has to tell..... His account
of this extraordinary episode has all the pace and plot of a historical
adventure novel, as though Longitude had been crossed with
A Tale of Two Cities, with a measure of Don Quixote
thrown in. Yet this book is also a meditation on the limits of empiricism
as well as on the particular perils of collaborative research.
Hamblyn, in The Sunday Times (London).
riveting account of the origins of the metric system by Ken Alder,
an American academic, is an eye-opener."
Booker, in The Daily Telegraph.
of the many virtues of Ken Alder's book is that he makes its science
comprehensible to determined non-specialist clods like me. It's
also fluent in style, rich in both ideas and characters and full
of dramatic urgency."
Preston, in The Sunday Telegraph.
a mind-boggling adventure story from the history of science, and
as a fascinating strand from the history of the French Revolution,
it is unlikely to be bettered for many years to come."
Browne, The Sunday Business Post (Dublin).
edifying and often witty..., The Measure of All Things is one of
the finest narrative histories I have ever read. It is beautifully
written throughout, endlessly informative and meticulously documented....
The result of this diligence, and Alder's brilliance as a writer,
is a book which thrills at every level. It is at once a historical
detective story, a marvellous demonstration of how science and its
social context animate one another, a human drama of the hightest
order and a parable which proves that--as Protagoras put it 25 centuries
ago--'man is the measure of all things.'
Robert Macfarlane, The Observer (London)
THE MEASURE OF ALL THINGS
moving study of character, an intriguing detective tale, an enlightening
account of scientific progress, an insightful rumination on fact
and error-by any measure, a wonderful book."
W. Brands, author of The First American: The Life and Times of
Benjamin Franklin and The Age of Gold
* * *
Measure of All Things is a colorful and beautifully written story,
filled with history, powerful ambitions, and human frailties."
Lightman, author of Einstein's Dreams
* * *
Alder's book on the history of the meter displays the precision
of a geometer and the wit of a savant. Alder shows himself to be
that rarest of things: a scholar whose moral compass is as exactingly
calibrated as his intellect (which is very fine indeed). How does
this book on measurement measure up to others in the field? The
answer is simple: It rules."
Kurzweil, author of The Grand Complication and A Case of Curiosities
Measure of All Things is a brilliant study in the intellectual origins
of modernity, based on prodigious research and skillfully written.
It will interest and delight anyone concerned with the shaping of
modern science and engineering, and will be recognized as a masterpiece
in its genre."
Cantor, author of In the Wake of the Plague
would have thought precision could be so messy, standardization
so divisive, mistakes so productive--or the history of science so
Tenner, author of Why Things Bite Back: Technology and the Revenge
of Unintended Consequences