Thursday, September 06, 2007

Current Non-Fiction Reads

Prof. Thomas Huxley

Bishop Samuel Wilberforce

I read about one book a week and it's always fiction. I generally just browse non-fiction. However, I picked up a couple of bargain books at B&N while I was in DC and I'm reading them cover to cover.

"Great Feuds in Science" by Hal Hellman. This book describes and discusses ten great feuds in science. I'm not reading them in order. Course, the first feud I had to read was between Darwin supporters (Thomas Huxley and Bishop "Soapy Sam" Wilberforce. I really love the elegance of the arguments and insults that were made.

Bishop Wilberforce pointed out that Darwin's theory was merely "an hypothesis, raised most unphilosophically to the dignity of a causal theory." He also commented how extremely uncomfortable he would feel if someone could show that an ape in the zoo was his ancestor. He then turned to Huxley and asked whether it was through his grandmother or grandfather that he claimed his descent from a monkey.

When it was Huxley's turn to speak, he ended his speech with "lastly, as to the descent from a monkey, I should feel it no shame to have risen from such an origin. But I should feel it a shame to have sprung from one who prostituted the gifts of culture and of eloquence to the service of prejudice and of falsehood."


The second book is "Jack the Ripper in London" by Richard Jones with photographs by Sean East. Jones is the owner of the "Discovery Walks" London tour company. Sean East is a retired UK Metropolitan police officer, now a professional photographer.

This book does not attempt to guess the identity of Jack the Ripper. It's a straight forward account of what living conditions in East End London were like in 1888 and the 5 murders (or more) that occurred between August 31 and November 9, 1888.

You can get the details of the Jack the Ripper case straight from the horse mouth here at the Metropolitan Police Service history site.

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