My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The 1600’s, an age of stained beauty. Yes, that is what began to seep into my conscience as I opened the pages of The Clockwork Universe. In the light cast by candles and lamps, the savagery of superstitions, medical bumblings, and sordid crime plays like shadows behind the beauty of progress, art, and discovery. With Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre bringing rousing and emotional accolade, the pervasive scent of human waste, dirty bodies, and filthy streets battled such beautiful arenas. This is the age that Edward Dolnick brings his readers.
From start to finish, this book captivated my attention. The many nuggets of historical facts, though often embellished by Dolnick, are thought-provoking and, as I often found, apt to change your viewpoint on much of the history you may or may not have known for the period of time he discusses.
But what is the book really about? Without spoiling it for those that have not read, it is a journey into the world of genius. Yet, at the same time, a journey into the world of madness. How does one counterbalance the raw, gritty underbelly of London beginning in 1660 with the emerging, yet mysterious, brilliance of Robert Boyle and Robert Hooke? These men, as I began to read, were what I consider to be tinkerers of progress into the unknown world of natural laws and order.
Dolnick brings us through the incredible world of superstitious beliefs that governed the minds of men deemed as experts of the era. The Royal Society and their many bizarre, yet generally accepted, remedies for issues of health such as: “cows urine drank to about a pint.”
From the End of the World fears, the outbreak of the plague, and the appearance of comets that foretold the impending judgment of the Lord upon sinful humanity, this book is filled with a fascinating, hard to put down, look at a time in history very few know. Nestled amidst is pages are fascinating encounters that focus on Sir Isaac Newton,his history, and much that you will have never known or even guessed could be true.
Sit back, hot cup of your beverage of choice, preferably with a crackling, wood-burning fire, and allow yourself to disconnect from the clean precision of today and immerse yourself into a world of genius and chaos which is Edward Dolnick’s The Clockwork Universe.