January 05, 2009
New Biography of Joseph Priestley
The most well known character who will appear in my book is undoubtedly that of Joseph Priestley. His memory is kept alive in a variety of circles - by scientists, by Unitarians - but his memory is being recast by Steven Johnson in his new book, The Invention of Air as (to quote Newsweek's review) a "lost Founding Father."
I, of course, am interested in Priestley as the father of carbonated water. I just ordered the book and look forward to reading what Johnson has to say. Johnson's earlier books, on emergence theory and how media is making us smarter, have been influential books on how I view the world, which makes my excitement even greater.
At first I was scared I might have missed my shot and he stole my thunder (and if anyone were to do so I would want it to be he!), but I think more likely than not this will simply show there is an interest in the subject, if as I suspect the Invention of Air follows in the footsteps of its bestselling predecessors.
Finally, I am also interested to learn if he talks at all about what I unfortunately will not be able to address in the book - his public relationship with Jews. Hurry up, Amazon!