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review 2014-12-16 14:00
Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life In Science
Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science - Daniel P. Todes

I was planning to read more biographies when I first came across this one on Netgalley. I thought it would combine two of my interests: 19th Century Russia and (the early years of) science. I expected a normal sized book, but what I got was a massive biography 840 pages long.

 

840?! Yes, it was a bit (please read: a couple of hundred pages) longer than anticipated, but it became one of my projects to finish this book before the start of the new year. And see, I succeeded!

 

Daniel P. Todes has been researching Pavlov for over 20 years. And that's exactly what you feel when reading the book. It feel well-researched, filled with commentaries of about every person who could have played a role in Pavlov's life. I'm no expert myself, so I can't judge if everything is correct, but I just assume it is.

 

Unfortunately, this massive research is  - in my opinion - probably also the cause of its weakness. It's several hundred of pages too long. Even I read this book in stages. It's good that there is a such an extensive part on his research, but sometimes it's a bit too dry to read. Especially so with theories that have since been proved wrong (like the ability to inherit acquired qualities).

 

Pavlov did rarely use a bell for his research on dogs, he used a buzzer instead. (It's perfectly possible that it's just something that has gone lost in translation - in my head - but I don't see what the big fuzz is all about).

 

So, if you're looking for a really extensive biography on Ivan Pavlov: look no further, you've found it. It's also interspersed with information on the changing Russian environment. But beware, it's 840 pages long and it's not an easy read, but an interesting one nevertheless...

 

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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text 2014-09-11 11:00
TBR Thursday #5
Ivan Pavlov: A Russian Life in Science - Daniel P. Todes
Undertow - K.R. Conway
The Secrets of Life and Death - Rebecca Alexander
Seventh Heaven - Alice Hoffman
The Genome: A Novel - Sergei Lukyanenko
The Three-Body Problem - Liu Cixin,Ken Liu
Children of the Tide: An Inspector Endersby Mystery - Jon Redfern
Space Penguins Galaxy Race - Lucy Courtenay
Life at the Speed of Light: From the Double Helix to the Dawn of Digital Life - J. Craig Venter

Every week I use the TBR Thursday to show everyone my newest books and to confront myself with my inability to lower my TBR.

 

There are, once again, quite some books that made their way to my shelves. Truth be told, I feel like it's not entirely my own fault this week. All new ARCs, but I finally got approved for some books I requested a long time ago, so they hardly really count for this week. I just tell myself this to make me feel better. Next week is the last week of my vacation, so I hope to get some reading done. I'm a bit behind on my ARCs, but it's already better than last week.

 

TBR pile currently stands at 175. (+5)

(Netgalley ARCs at 58 (+6))

 

I thought 'Interesting this biography of Ivan Pavlov, I should get it!' This was all before I found out it's 842 pages long! 842! For a biography!

 

Undertow I luckily got with a different cover, one that looks less like it's going to be a romance. I still hope that it's going to be a good book.

 

The Secrets of life and death, Seventh Heaven and Children of the tide all sounded very interesting. I'm looking forward to read them.

 

I was interesting in The Genome, because I know a lot of people who really enjoyed Night Watch so I was very curious about this author.

 

The Three Body Problem is Chinese SF, that sounded so interesting I now really want to read it.

 

Space Penguins Galaxy Race is definitely a children's book but it had my at the tagline of 'In space no one can hear you flap'

 

Last but not least, Life at the speed of light is written by Craig Ventor, of whom I've heard quite a lot in my lessons on the Human Genome Project wrote this book on genomics and I find that as a biomedical scientist an interesting topic.

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