I am currently working on my book report for history class on the book "The Invention of Air." It is an interesting book on how revolutionary ideas are formed using the 18th century scientific experiments of Joseph Priestley to illustrate how great ideas are not thought up overnight. Joseph Priestley was an amateur scientist who ended up making discoveries that ended up being pretty important, such as inventing carbonated drinks and discovering oxygen.
It's a good social history book, it uses a good bit of primary documents but doesn't cite much of the historical facts at all (which many readers don't mind,) but I do. Many of the facts are verifiable, but I really like to see sources in books. Steven Johnson also left out or downplayed the works of other contemporary scientists who were performing similar experiments and 'discovering' the same things.
From a history perspective, the book is interesting but must be taken with a grain of salt. If you are interested in how great ideas are formed and created, it is a good read.
Some lessons that can be learned from the book about great ideas:
- Great ideas are sparked by networking with other people who focus on other disciplines.
- Great ideas are formed over many years.
- All ideas should be written down. Even mediocre ideas can inspire or help build great ideas.
- Good ideas come from curiosity.