This book aims at serious goals and achieves all of theirs. It pros ides x fundamentally new interpretation of the Cambrian-Silurian dispute based on exacting research and thoughtful interpretation. It also relates the dispute both to the general social background of British geology and to the distinctive personal experiences of Sedgswick and Murchison. Secord writes clear, rigorous prose and provides plenty of helpful illustrations. One cannot ask for more" - William Montgomery, Science "Secord gives a dazzlingly detailed account of this scientific trench warfare and its social consequences. One ends up with a marvellous feeling for the major taxonomic enterprises in Darwin's younger day: mapping, ordering, conquering 'taming the "chaos" of the strata. All of these of course had social and imperial ramifications; and Secord mentions geology's moral appeal (in supporting a divinely-stratified Creation) to a beleaguered elite intent on subduing the lower orders. We also get a wonderful insight into the bitty slay these taxonomic enterprises progressed. . . . What comes across is how? our supposedly 'inert' taxonomic constructs still reflect their contingent heritage" - Adrian Desmond, London Review of Books "James Secord provides a fascinating history of one of the most celebrated altercations in 19th-century science-the controversy over the proper boundary between the Cambrian and Silurian divisions in the oldest fossil-bearing rocks. By integrating the social and technical aspects of the conflict, the author opens up a range of new approaches to the history of natural science in the Victorian era. The result is a vivid story of the human effects of scientific partisanship and an important contribution to the study of the actual practice of science" - European Journal of Engineering Education" [Secord's] book must become essential reading for any serious student of the history of the earth-sciences but it also
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