Acid Tongues and Tranquil Dreamers: Tales of Bitter Rivalry That Fueled the Advancement of Science and Technology Review

Acid Tongues and Tranquil Dreamers: Tales of Bitter Rivalry That Fueled the Advancement of Science and Technology
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Acid Tongues and Tranquil Dreamers: Tales of Bitter Rivalry That Fueled the Advancement of Science and Technology ReviewI have reviewed Acid Tongues in the Street Cred column of Wired Magazine (April 2001, p. 218); I won't repeat my whole review, since that is available in the magazine and at Wired's online site.
I conclude that "Michael White delivers blow-by-blow accounts of the rivalries that underlay eight historical advancements, and he enriches each story with analysis, solid scientific explanation, and detailed biographies of each combatant." However, the whole never equals more than the sum of the parts. "White's principal assumption seems to be that rivalry fuels the advancement of science and technology." But he never proves the point. Edison's stubborn opposition to alternating current, for example, didn't really advance science so much as delay widespread recognition of the superior technology.
"Acid Tongues' thesis begs for a comparison of competitive and noncompetitive research, but--contrary to the book's title--we encounter no 'tranquil dreamers.'" I also have other minor quibbles, but conclude that "although Acid Tongues may not deliver an overarching argument, it does prove one thing: It's fun to read about rivalries." - Edward Samuels, author of The Illustrated Story of CopyrightAcid Tongues and Tranquil Dreamers: Tales of Bitter Rivalry That Fueled the Advancement of Science and Technology Overview

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