Monday, January 7, 2013

The Top Ten Books Read in 2012, #6

Number 6 is another biography from unlikely, although apropos biographer. On a whim I downloaded from Libirivox, James Watt by Andrew Carnegie. I honestly don't know why I would download such a book. I vaguely connect the book with my friend Billy Newton, over at Blog of the Courtier, but I'll let him comment with regards to the validity of that memory.

Anyway, this book was fascinating. I am not a scientist. I don't like physics other than to enjoy the objective beauty of its equations. English was my strong suit (hence, the current mode and medium you are reading). Somehow, the fact that the business tycoon Andrew Carnegie wrote a biography on some dude fascinated me. James Watt was an extraordinary man. He ran not only in scientific circles but in philosophical circles as well. He was friends of Adam Smith, the founder of capitalism, who would have, at that time, been considered a philosopher.

His scientific achievements were vast and wide. He was a practical inventor. It was his practical inventiveness that allowed him to develop the best design for a steam engine that had uses outside of coal mining.

The most fascinating part of the book though is Carnegie's interjections into Watts life. He intrudes like an overattentive narrator. It is not your modern biography where facts are told in prose. It's more like your rich grandfather is telling you a story about an important person in history, a person that enabled him to be rich. I love Carnegie's commentary of Watt's life. Although not a style in style, I enjoyed the imposition because it gave it good coloring to the book.

My only suggestion would be to pick it up via an ebook as opposed to the Librivox recording. The narrator was terribly dry and often mispronounced words, which I found distracting.

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