Current Books In Brief

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The scope of this hefty volume is awe-inspiring, for it translates into words and pictures 175 years of American science and invention, from Ben Franklin down to the atomic physicists. Mitchell Wilson is qualified for this ambitious undertaking both as a novelist ( Live With Lightning ) who can make the men behind the inexorable progress exciting and human, and as a physicist (he was an assistant to the late Enrico Fermi) who knows his subject well. He calls his book “a collaboration between my two professional selves,” and the collaboration seems to have gone very nicely. More than a thousand drawings, engravings, photographs and paintings accompany the text. Paul Jensen, the layout editor, has done a masterful job.