The Age of Science. David Knight. Basil Blackwell, New York, 1986. 240 pp. $24.95.

This new book by David Knight, senior lecturer in history of science at the University of Durham, might plausibly be described as a popular survey of English science and its cultural role from 1789 to 1914. "Survey," however, scarcely does justice to Knight's program. Rather than scaling historical peaks for the perspectives they offer, Knight leads his reader on a brisk ramble through overgrown byways of Victorian culture. One sees outlines of the great thought-systems looming in the distance—Darwinism, field theory, progress—and catches occasional glimpses of great figures traveling history's thoroughfare. But Knight's attention is really on the more homely, and in his view more revealing, monuments beside the path.

The book contains delightful chapters on the history of scientific illustrations, the fortunes of natural theology, the relationship of science and spiritualism, and the grab...

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