The Invention of Air: An Experiment, a Journey, a New Country and the Amazing Force of Scientific Discovery

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Penguin Books Limited, Oct 29, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 176 pages
51 Reviews

From the bestselling author of Everything Bad is Good for You, Steven Johnson's The Invention of Air tells the incredible story of scientist and radical Joseph Priestley, who invented soda water, discovered oxygen, and incited rioting with his political views.

In 1794, Joseph Priestley - amateur scientist, ordained minister and radical thinker - set sail for America to escape persecution. Steven Johnson tells his incredible story: the discovery of oxygen, the invention of a science, the founding of a church, and, with the great minds of his time, the development of the United States itself. But Priestley's revolutionary ideas put him in terrible danger.

Johnson uses the progress of Priestley and his colleagues not merely to describe the wonder of discovery, but to show us how we have come to understand the world, how far we have travelled with the power of human enquiry - and how one man's curiosity can help build an entire country.

'A shot of the purest oxygen'
  Simon Winchester

'Packed with excellent stuff'
  Russell Davies

'Entertaining ... clear-sighted and intelligent'
  New Yorker

'As full of ingenuity and as delightful as its subject'
  Financial Times

'Brilliant'
  The New York Times

'Johnson paints Priestley not as a man of the past but precisely the sort of figure the world needs more than ever'
  New York Post

Steven Johnson is the author of the acclaimed books Everything Bad is Good for You, Mind Wide Open, Where Good Ideas Come From, The Ghost Map, Emergence and Interface Culture. His writing appeared in the Guardian, the New Yorker, Nation and Harper's, as well as the op-ed pages of The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He is a Distinguished Writer In Residence at NYU's School Of Journalism, and a Contributing Editor to Wired.

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Review: The Invention of Air

User Review  - Morgan - Goodreads

The Invention of Air is a biography of Joseph Priestley, one of the first modern chemists. Along with the discussion of Priestley's life, the book includes many digressions about why some people may ... Read full review

Review: The Invention of Air

User Review  - Todd Stockslager - Goodreads

Review title: A Comet in the system of science, politics, and faith After reading Johnson's latest, How we got to now, I found this book from 2008 on the shelf in my excellent local public library ... Read full review

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About the author (2009)

David Dyergrew up in a coastal town in NSW, Australia, and graduated as dux of his high school in 1984. After commencing a degree in medicine and surgery at the University of Sydney, he soon decided it was not for him.

David went on to train as a ship's officer at the Australian Maritime College, travelling Australia and the world in a wide range of merchant ships. He graduated from the college with distinction and was awarded a number of prizes, including the Company of Master Mariners Award for highest overall achievement in the course. He then returned to the University of Sydney to complete a combined degree in Arts and Law. David was awarded the Frank Albert Prize for first place in Music I, High Distinctions in all English courses and First Class Honours in Law. From the mid-1990s until early 2000s David worked as a litigation lawyer in Sydney, and then in London at a legal practice whose parent firm represented the Titanic's owners back in 1912. In 2002 David returned to Australia and obtained a Diploma in Education from the University of New England, and commenced teaching English at Kambala, a school for girls in Sydney's eastern suburbs.

David has had a life-long obsession with the Titanic and has become an expert on the subject. In 2009 he was awarded a Commonwealth Government scholarship to write The Midni

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