Review of of Joyce Appleby’s “Shores of Knowledge”

(Trying to keep track of my reading — so here is a quick review of my in-flight reading from #ASAO2018)

As with her previous books, Appleby’s history of European science seen from the angle of discovery and colonization is lucid and well-organized. It will be of interest to anyone who wants a broad and easy overview of the period from Columbus to Darwin, whether they are high school students or nonfiction buffs. The book works chronologically, walking through the biographies of the best-known thinkers from each period. Appleby expertly cherry-picks the literature to provide good summaries from well-respected sources. Although the focus is on European exploration, there are enough digressions into astronomy and chemistry to make this more than just an account geography and voyaging — although note that philology and religious studies are not covered. Overall, Appleby’s book went down easy and filled in several gaps in my knowledge. It made great in-flight reading. Those looking for an introduction to this topic, or something to string all the pieces together will enjoy this well-written volume, but people wanting to go deeper into the literature or already know something about it will be better served looking elsewhere.