David Wootton offers a kind of justification for his lengthy chronicle of the scientific revolution of the 16th and 17th centuries. “We still live with the consequences,” he writes in “The Invention of Science.’’ The “scientific way of thinking has become so much part of our culture that it has now become difficult to think our way back into a world where people did not speak of facts, hypotheses and theories, where knowledge was not grounded in evidence, where nature did not have laws.”
Wootton fears that we don”t quite appreciate what an intellectual leap forward the revolution was, and he proves himself a worthy tutor. The University of York history professor is a dazzling explicator of difficult ideas whose relish for his material is evident on nearly every page. He writes well not only about key figures like Isaac Newton, Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Galileo, Francis Bacon, and Robert Boyle, but also dozens of lesser known scientific minds — Italian German, English, French — from the era.
From Mark Hemmingway:" So we asked Federalist staff and contributors to come up with their own list of books that, for whatever reason, they found notable in 2015. Maybe those books didn’t even come out in 2015. Maybe they weren’t huge bestsellers. Perhaps these books were overlooked because they ran afoul of The New York Times’ politics or Amazon’s publishing imperatives. And yes, there’s at least a few new books mentioned below that did manage to live up to the hype surrounding them. So here our recommendations in all their idiosyncratic glory."
December is nearly over, but these latest additions to the Library arrived about a week ago!
Domesday Book: A Complete Translation
Compiled in a matter of months in 1086 at the behest of William the Conqueror, Domesday quickly established itself as document of immense legal importance. It was last consulted for legal precedent in 1982. It is also the most remarkable portrait of England in the late eleventh century.
Sisters to the King by Maria Perry
In the Tudor age, both Margaret and Mary were thought to be more important personalities than Henry's six wives. Margaret became Queen of Scotland at the age of 13. Mary, Henry's famously beautiful younger sister, was married off to the ageing King of France. Against convention both chose their second husbands for love.
Mary Rose : Tudor Princess, Queen of France, the Extraordinary Life of Henry VIII's Sister by David Loades
David Loades' biography, the first for almost 50 years, brings the princess alive once more. Of all Tudor women, this Queen of France and later Duchess of Suffolk remains an elusive, enigmatic figure.
Cecily Neville : Mother of Kings by Amy Licence
One of a huge family herself, Cecily would see two of her sons become kings of England, but the struggles that tore apart the Houses of Lancaster and York also turned brother against brother. Cecily's life cannot have been easy.
Lordship in Four Realms : The Lacy Family, 1166-1241 by Colin Veach
This book examines the rise and fall of the aristocratic Lacy family in England, Ireland, Wales and Normandy. This involves a unique analysis of medieval lordship in action, as well as a re-imagining of the role of English kingship in the western British Isles and a rewriting of seventy-five years of Anglo-Irish history.
The Greatest Knight : The Remarkable Life of William Marshal, the Power Behind Five English Thrones by Thomas Asbridge
In The Greatest Knight, renowned historian Thomas Asbridge draws upon an array of contemporary evidence, including the thirteenth-century biography, to present a compelling account of William Marshal's life and times, from rural England to the battlefields of France, the desert castles of the Holy Land and the verdant shores of Ireland. Charting the unparalleled rise to prominence of a man bound to a code of honour, yet driven by unquenchable ambition, this knight's tale lays bare the brutish realities of medieval warfare and the machinations of royal court, and draws us into the heart of a formative period of our history, when the West emerged from the Dark Ages and stood on the brink of modernity.