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Issues in Science and Technology Librarianship
Summer 2009

Book Reviews

Research and Discovery: Landmarks and Pioneers in American Science

Nicole Mitchell
Reference Librarian
Lister Hill Library of the Health Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, Alabama

Copyright 2009, Nicole Mitchell. Used with permission.

Research and Discovery: Landmarks and Pioneers in American Science. 3 volumes. Lawson, Russell, editor. Armonk, NY: Sharpe Reference, 2008. 1,012pp. ISBN 978-0-7656-8073-0. $299.00

Published in February 2008, Research and Discovery, a three-volume set edited by Russell Lawson, compiles more than 700 articles on the landmarks and pioneers in science and technology in the United States, from the colonial era to the present day. Lawson is Associate Professor of History at Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma.

Chapters are divided into 14 disciplines: natural history, geography, botany, biology, medicine and health, geosciences, social sciences, behavioral sciences, astronomy, physics, chemistry, mathematics and computer science, applied science, and history and philosophy of science. Each chapter begins with several introductory essays on the topic, many of which are written by Lawson, that provide "an overview of historical development and central concepts" (xxxi). Entries within the chapters are arranged alphabetically and include people, events, organizations, institutions, and concepts including such topics as Apple Computer, the Brooklyn Bridge, Eli Whitney, Albert Einstein, religion and science, eugenics, and Alzheimer's Disease. Entries cover well known events and persons, such as those mentioned above, as well as the less well known like colonial botanist John Clayton, the Appalachian Mountain Club, diabetes researcher Frederick Madison Allen, neurasthenia, and phlogiston, the "hypothetical substance believed to be present in all combustible matter" (702). Lawson contributed numerous entries in addition to the entries written by independent scholars, historians, and college professors.

A few resources for further reading are included at the end of each entry. All chapters conclude with an assortment of primary documents such as Zebulon Pike's description of the prairie dog, a letter about the Philadelphia Yellow Fever epidemic of 1793, and a description of comets from a nineteenth century astronomy textbook. The work includes photographs, a list of American Nobel Laureates in Science from 1933 to 2007, an index, and a Topic Finder. The index and Topic Finder are included in each volume for easy access. A complete table of contents for the three volumes can be found in volume one, while volumes two and three contain volume-specific tables of contents. In addition, there is also an extensive bibliography, combining all of the entries' recommended readings, and a list of the web sites mentioned.

Aimed at high school and undergraduate students, this work will provide a good overview of the history and development of American science and technology. While fairly expensive, this three-volume set includes subjects not found in other works. Recommended for high school, college, and public libraries.

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