The ascent of man

by Jacob Bronowski

Hardcover, 1973




Boston, Little, Brown [1974, c1973]


Traces the development of science and the discoveries that have made man unique amoung animal species.

Media reviews

This is not just a book about science. It is a book about why science matters, and what it really tells us. That is not a message likely to go out of date in a few decades.

User reviews

LibraryThing member millsge
I have read this book a dozen times since it was published and Dr. Bronowski continues to inspire me with his impassioned history of man's intellectual evolution. Of course, the study of history and of man has advanced since 1976, but this man's writing can still save me when my pessimism about our progress threatens to overwhelm me.… (more)
LibraryThing member boeflak
An extraordinary book by an extraordinary mathematician, scientist and philosopher. Also a stunning PBS series available at many public libraries.
LibraryThing member NicholasPayne
I love Bronowski's take on the world. Such an astute and loving eye cast on human achievement.
LibraryThing member Griff
Read during impressionable high school years. I am not rating the content and accuracy thereof - either as it would have been judged at the time or how well such content has held up over the ensuing years, years that have seen a changing interpretation of our world. I give it high marks for inspiring a group of classmates, all of whom have been successful through the years, to look at the world with awe and wonder - to get excited about discovery - and to be human and humane in our quest for knowledge. Jacob Bronowski accomplished that with this book and his series.… (more)
LibraryThing member caffron
I have loaned this one out several times. It's an accessible introduction to intellectual history.
LibraryThing member Eyejaybee
The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the rise of the blockbuster documentary series, such as 'The World at War', with Laurence Olivier's chilling narration, 'Alistair Cooke's America' and 'Civilisation', presented by Lord Kenneth Clark (father of the scurrilous diarist, Alan Clark). Professor Jacob Bronowski, renowned principally as an academic mathematician, conceived his own series, 'The Ascent of Man' as a match for Clark's 'Civilisation', presenting the development of human understanding and application of science.

The book is an almost verbatim transcription of Bronowski's series which was notable for his clear, readily accessible explanations of seminal moments in the history of scientific progress right from the earliest exploits of primeval man, through to theoretical physics and the commencement of the exploration of space. Even more impressive was the fact that most of Bronowski's eloquent disquisitions were entirely unscripted.

Though his own discipline was that of mathematics, Bronowski displays an enviable ability to convey complicated subjects in a manner understood by the layman. He is not reluctant to take on some of the more complex and daunting subjects, but he manages to render even Einstein's theories of relativity into a sufficiently digestible form.

He shows great sensitivity throughout building each chapter through a series of simple, logical steps to give a concise history of the development of a different aspect of modern science. The book was published more than forty years ago, so the frontiers of research in each discipline have been pushed to lengths that Bronowski could not have foreseen. His book, however, remains surprisingly current because he focuses on scientific methodology and trends in innovative thought, all portrayed with a compelling directness and simplicity.
… (more)
LibraryThing member sourdoh
Interesting but full of misinformation.
LibraryThing member Novak
J. Bronowski’s The Ascent of Man, what a wonderful piece of work. If my library caught fire this is the book I would grab, if I could, as I ran out.
LibraryThing member PedrapGwilym
I loved this little guy, for when I met him a long time ago, he was, like this book, totally inspirational. Whatever it was you were interested in he made you feel that it was the best of all fields to follow but with the caveat that one must keep an open mind and prepare to be wrong. Needless to say, over the the years, I've been wrong a lot, but thanks to Dr Bronowski, I am the better for it!… (more)
LibraryThing member datrappert
This book, which is an augmented version of the narrative Bronowski delivered for the BBC series of 1973, which I haven't yet watched, is lucid and brilliant from start to finish. At first, I regretted not having the accompanying video, but this feeling passed quickly. My edition does have some illustrations, but they are all black & white and most are poorly reproduced. In the end, they aren't needed. The writing is so good, the argument so convincing, and the content so fascinating that the book is a joy to read. And what a guide--a mathematician who later turned to other sciences, while at the same time a scholar of English literature, Bronowski's ascent of man is both scientific and artistic. His focus on the accomplishments of individuals such as Galileo, Newton, and Alfred Russel Wallace is fascinating. Topics include discovering atomic structure, genetics, and, of course, evolution. It is sad that Bronowski didn't live a lot longer. I would love to see him discussing quantum physics. Highly, highly recommended!… (more)
LibraryThing member MeditationesMartini
I learned a fair bit about bits of this and that from this response to Kenneth Clarke's classic "Civilization" series and book, basically the "the human in history as a function in science" to Clarke's similar take rooted in art. Bronowski's "wide-eyed urbanity" kind of schtick was alternately very charming and a bit much, like nobody could possibly be that blown away by the Victorian scientists and their vigour, like nobody who thinks of themselves as objective and a "man of science" likesay could really be that unreflective about whether China and India and the Middle East were really that Hegelian-philosophy-of-history torpid unless maybe he wasn't quite as free of preconceptions as he thought.… (more)



Page: 0.2141 seconds