SCIENCE AND THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE
The Shape of the World: The Mapping and Discovery of
(1989/90: George Philip/Rand
McNally)—with Simon Berthon
which accompanied a Granada Television series sponsored by IBM
Read a related review ("Hell in the Pacific") in Nature, 10 October 2013.
Read a related feature by AR ("How do we know how to measure longitude?") in (BBC) Focus, Summer 2014.
Earthshock: Hurricanes, Volcanoes, Earthquakes,
Tornadoes and Other Forces of Nature
& Hudson, rev. edn 2002)
which has been translated into four
languages; it won the US-based Association of Earth Science Editors Outstanding
Publication Award for 1994
--"The pictures alone make this book worthwhile for anyone interested in the workings of the world. ... Combined with the text, they make Earthshock a wonderful book for anyone curious about natural phenomena—I would have loved a copy for Christmas when I was a teenager."
(Sue Bowler, New Scientist)
compilation of the things that can happen when our planet does no more than
turn in its long sleep." (James Lovelock, writer and Fellow of the Royal Society)
--"This is quite simply a delicious book, thought provoking, informative and witty."
(W. J. Albery, Fellow of the Royal Society and Master of University College, Oxford, University College Record)
Read a related feature by AR ("How do we know the cause of volcanic eruptions?") in (BBC) Focus, February 2015.
Einstein: A Hundred Years of Relativity
(2005: Palazzo/Abrams; Metro, 2010; rev. edn, Princeton University Press, 2015)
which has been translated into eight languages. Published during the 2005 centenary of Einstein's discovery of relativity, the book is a biography, with additional contributions, edited by the author, from physicists, writers and others, including three Nobel laureates, Philip W. Anderson, Joseph Rotblat and Steven Weinberg, and Arthur C. Clarke, Freeman Dyson, Philip Glass and Stephen Hawking
--"By far the best
book about Einstein that I have ever come across"
(Patrick Moore, Fellow of the Royal Society, BBC Sky at Night magazine)
--"Of all the books about Einstein that have passed through the Physics World office during the last twelve months, Einstein: A Hundred Years of Relativity is by far and away the most appealing. The book contains material on all aspects of Einstein's scientific work and private life, including eleven highly readable essays. It is filled with a myriad of familiar and not-so-familiar images."
Read a related review by AR ("Einstein online") in Science, 19 December 2014.
Read a related feature by AR ("Einstein's mysterious genius") at OUPblog, 20 November 2015.
Read an interview with AR about five key books on Einstein's life and science at FiveBooks.com, 20 November 2015.
Read a related feature by AR ("Why is Einstein famous?") at Project Syndicate, 25 November 2015.
Read a related feature by AR ("Einstein in Oxford") at PrincetonUniversityPressblog, 1 December 2015
Read a (different) related feature by AR ("Einstein in Oxford") in Christ Church Matters, Michaelmas Term 2015.
The Last Man Who Knew Everything: Thomas Young, The
Anonymous Polymath Who Proved Newton Wrong, Explained How We See, Cured the
Sick, and Deciphered the Rosetta Stone, Among Other Feats of Genius
(2006: Pi Press/Oneworld; pbk edn
--"Thomas Young... is a neglected English intellectual hero... whose life and work is properly celebrated in this fine book." (Ian Finlayson, The Times)
--"The occasional diagram is almost superfluous, because Robinson's writing is so lucid. In fact the style of the entire book is a wonder. With no flourishes, no time wasting. Robinson calmly deciphers the man and his numerous fields of enquiry. Clearly, Robinson has some polymathic tendencies."
(Michael Sims, The Los Angeles Times)
--"It is wonderful to have such an elegant biography of this remarkable man."
(Philip W. Anderson, Nobel laureate in physics)
--"I must confess that—to my shame—I was unaware of the career of Thomas Young. Clearly he was an extraordinary man. (If I may paraphrase myself: When Thomas Young was my age, he had been dead for 22 years.) And [this] is clearly an extraordinary book."
(Tom Lehrer, mathematician and songwriter)
--"It is the best biography I have read for many years."
(Sir Patrick Moore, astronomer and writer)
The book was cited by presenter Jeremy Paxman as part of a question about Thomas Young on the BBC television programme, 'University Challenge', in December 2015.
Read a related feature by AR ("Thomas Young: the man who knew everything") in History Today, April 2006.
Read a related feature by AR ("Thomas Young and the Rosetta Stone") in Endeavour, June 2007.
Read a related feature by AR ("How do we know the nature of light?") in (BBC) Focus, December 2014.
The Story of Measurement
(2007: Thames & Hudson)
which has been translated into nine languages and was Book of
the Month in Geographical, the
magazine of the Royal Geographical Society
--"Andrew Robinson's The Story of Measurement is a fine introduction to the topic. Robinson aims to cover just about everything that is measurable in nature and in man."
(Eileen Magnello, The Times Literary Supplement)
(Read the review.)
--"This is a sumptuous book, a sensual pleasure to look at ... crammed ... with beguiling images of anything to do with measurement—from abacuses to zeptograms ... It is, however, intelligently written and always rewarding to dip into."
(Andro Linklater, Geomatics World)
Read a related feature by AR ("How do we know the length of one metre?") in (BBC) Focus, August 2014.
Sudden Genius?: The Gradual Path to Creative Breakthroughs
(2010: Oxford University Press)
--"Robinson's book ranges widely and well, and he proves himself adept at explaining complex concepts in areas as diverse as physics and Egyptian hieroglyphics. ... through its excellent synthesis of biography, history and theory, Sudden Genius? brings us closer to an understanding of what makes the great artists and scientists tick."
(Ian Critchley, The Sunday Times)
--"Robinson's ten subjects display his impressive intellectual range. He is equally at home with scientists and artists and, besides the obvious Einstein, Leonardo, Darwin, Mozart and Wren, includes Satyajit Ray, Cartier-Bresson and Champollion, the decipherer of the Rosetta Stone."
(Peter Forbes, The Independent)
--"Scientists, like artists, are creative; but a science of creativity sounds another matter. Andrew Robinson's beautifully written book reviews what we know—and more crucially don't know—about creativity, scientifically speaking. No easy explanation of creative genius is possible, as Robinson shows with his carefully chosen case histories of five artists and five scientists."
(Chris McManus, University College London, author of Right Hand, Left Hand)
Read a related feature by AR ("Perspiration, inspiration, and the 10-year rule") in the Lancet, 30 October 2010.
Genius: A Very Short Introduction
(2011: Oxford University Press)
--"impressively wide-ranging, with illuminating discussions of whether there is a personality conducive to genius, intelligence tests, eureka experiences, and theory that (to quote Edison) 'genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration'." (P. D. Smith, The Guardian)
The Scientists: An Epic of Discovery
(2012: Thames & Hudson)
highly illustrated collection of biographical essays on some forty scientists by established scientists, historians and science writers, such as Frank Close, Martin Rudwick and Virginia Morell, edited by AR, which has been translated into seven languages
Read a review in Nature, 13 September 2012.
See a slideshow, "7 Epic Moments in Science History", Huffington Post, 2 October 2012.
Read a review in The Lancet, 12 January 2013.
Earthquake: Nature and Culture
(2012: Reaktion Books)
an illustrated history of earthquakes forming part of a new series, Earth, on the culture and science of great natural phenomena, which was selected for the Scientific American Book Club.
--"Studying earthquakes is somewhat like the apocryphal medical school dean who tells students: 'Half of what we will teach you in the next four years is wrong. The problem is that we don't know which half.' Robinson conveys this spirit in a lively and well-written introduction to earthquakes and how people discovered, struggle to understand, and try to figure out how to deal with this dramatic, destructive, and still poorly understood phenomenon."
(Seismologist Seth Stein, author of Disaster Deferred: How New Science Is Changing Our View of Earthquake Hazards in the Midwest)
Read a related review by AR on seismologist Charles Richter ("All shook up") in Physics World, January 2007.
Read a related review by AR ("Shaking the foundations of archaeology") in Nature, 10 April 2008.
Read a review in The Independent, 22 December 2012.
Read a review in Current World Archaeology, February/March 2013.
Read a related feature by AR ("Shake, rattle and roll") in Minerva, March/April 2013.
Read a related feature by AR ("How do we know what causes earthquakes?") in (BBC) Focus, October 2013.
Read a related review by AR on Japanese seismicity in E&T (Engineering & Technology), June 2014.
Read a related review by AR on an Indian earthquake in the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, Series 3, 2014.
Read a related review by AR on plate tectonics in Geoscientist, March 2015.
Exceptional Creativity in Science and Technology: Individuals, Institutions, and Innovations
(2013: Templeton Press)
a collection of essays based on a conference at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, edited by AR
--"Following a series of outstanding books on various aspects of the history of science, Andrew Robinson has now edited a fascinating work which explores the origins of the greatest scientific institutions in the world and their innovations which have changed our lives."
(Sir David Weatherall, FRS, Regius Professor of Medicine Emeritus, Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford)
Read a review in the Los Angeles Review of Books, 30 December 2013.
Read a related review by AR on inventions that didn't change the world in The Lancet, 24 January 2015.
Read a related review by AR on the rise and fall of the Superconducting Supercollider in Physics World, December 2015.
Earth-Shattering Events: Earthquakes, Nations and Civilization
(Forthcoming in April 2016: Thames & Hudson)
--"Andrew Robinson's Earth-Shattering Events is a truly welcome, and refreshing, study that puts earthquake impact on history into a proper perspective. As he so well states: 'Overall, history suggests that great earthquakes have indeed sometimes been important in the decline, collapse and rebirth of societies.' The book is especially rewarding for those of us who are concerned with the intricate interrelations between natural disasters, human acts (or the lack of them) and historical changes spanning several millennia."
(Amos Nur, Professor of Geophysics Emeritus, Stanford University, California, author of Apocalypse: Earthquakes, Archaeology, and the Wrath of God)
Read a related review by AR of three books on earthquakes and civilization in Nature, 3 December 2015.
ARCHAEOLOGY AND SCRIPTS
The Story of Writing: Alphabets, Hieroglyphs and Pictograms
(1995: Thames & Hudson, pbk edn 2000, 2nd edn 2007)
which has been translated into ten languages (including Japanese and Chinese) and is a bestseller
--"The most accessible and informative book available on the major writing systems of the world"
--"Rich in images ... well-informed and assured"
(Philip Morrison, Scientific American)
--"A fascinating book"
Read a related feature by AR ("How do we know the meaning of Egyptian hieroglyphs?") in (BBC) Focus, Summer 2013.
Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World’s
(2002: McGraw-Hill; rev. edn, Thames & Hudson, 2009)
selected by the Softback Preview as Book of the Month
--"An accessible primer...a potent mix of academic esoterica, code-cracking and controversy—the same giddy cocktail that made The Da Vinci Code such a success, but with much greater scholarship"
(James McConnachie, The Sunday Times)
--"Robinson's enthusiasm for the subject is so infectious that you might find yourself trying to crack Etruscan in your spare time."
has now followed up his beautifully illustrated The Story of Writing with a highly appropriate sequel: Lost Languages, on undeciphered scripts. Many, it seems likely, will never be deciphered—which raises an interesting question. If we cannot always understand messages from our fellow humans—how successful will we be when we receive the first communication from Outer Space?"
(Arthur C. Clarke)
Read a related feature by AR ("Decoding antiquity: eight scripts that still can't be read") in New Scientist, 30 May 2009.
The Man Who Deciphered Linear B: The Story of Michael
(2002: Thames & Hudson, pbk edn 2012)
which was made into a BBC television programme, A Very English Genius
swift and clear biography"
--"Excellent: well researched and clearly presented ... compelling reading"
(Torsten Meissner, The Times Literary Supplement)
(Read the review.)
--"A superb biography of Michael Ventris, combining a warm account of his life with just enough detail to satisfy those who have knowledge of linguistics or indeed of the classics."
(Current World Archaeology)
Read a related feature by AR ("The code breakers") in Minerva, September/October 2012.
Read a related feature by AR ("Michael Ventris: the man who deciphered Linear B") in Argo, the magazine of the Society for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies, Autumn/Winter 2015.
See also the entry on Michael Ventris by AR in the 2016 edition of The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Writing and Script: A Very Short Introduction
(2009: Oxford University
--“Accessible and succinct, … [it] is,
indeed, a short but excellent introduction to the written forms of
communication.” (British Museum Magazine)
Cracking the Egyptian Code: The Revolutionary Life of Jean-Francois Champollion
(2012: Thames & Hudson; Oxford University Press USA, 2012)
the first biography in English of the man who deciphered the Egyptian hieroglyphs
--"An entertaining, highly readable and authoritative biography of the greatest decipherer of all time"
(Michael D. Coe, author of Breaking the Maya Code)
--"Andrew Robinson's Champollion is a brash genius, with the power to make loyal friends but also bitter enemies ... This is a spirited account of a fascinating subject: the birth of Egyptology."
(John Ray, professor of Egyptology, University of Cambridge)
Read a related feature by AR ("A clash of symbols") and listen to a podcast interview in Nature, 1 March 2012.
Read a review in the Financial Times, 21 April 2012.
Read a related feature by AR ("Jean-Francois Champollion and ancient Egyptian embalming") in The Lancet, 12 May 2012.
Read a review in The Independent 12 May 2012.
Read a review in Nature, 17 May 2012.
Read a review in Current World Archaeology, 53, 2012.
Read a review in The Wall Street Journal, 16 June 2012.
Listen to an interview on the Biography Podcast, June 2012.
Read a review in The Washington Post, 22 August 2012.
Read a review in Antiquity, September 2012.
Read a review in Egyptian Archaeology, Autumn 2012.
Read a review in History Today, November 2012.
The Indus: Lost Civilizations
(2015: Reaktion Books)
--"Andrew Robinson creates a brilliant portrait of one of the world's most enigmatic early civilizations. In doing so, he crosses the boundaries between different academic disciplines with effortless panache and high learning. This succinct account of the Indus civilization, its script, religious beliefs and its complex inheritance, places a vigorous, urban society in its rightful historical context. Everyone interested in ancient civilizations should read this eloquent, closely argued biography (it is nothing less) that brings the Indus people in from the historical shadows."
(Archaeologist Brian Fagan, author of The Great Warming and Elixir: A History of Water and Humankind)
--"The Indus is very well written and eminently readable ... Andrew Robinson deals with all the unsolved problems in a fair manner and with balanced judgement ... a valuable contribution to the literature on the Indus civilization.' (Epigrapher Iravatham Mahadevan, author of The Indus Script: Texts, Concordance and Tables)
--"A great book on a not-so-easy subject!"
(Michael D. Coe, author of Breaking the Maya Code)
Read a related feature by AR ("The mysteries of the Indus civilisation") in Minerva, March/April 2015.
Read a related feature by AR ("Deciphering the roots of the Indus civilisation" in Current World Archaeology, 73, 2015.
Read a related feature by AR ("Cracking the Indus script") in Nature, 22 October 2015.
Read a related feature by AR ("Indus civilisation: lost and found") in History Today, December 2015.
Read a related feature by AR ("Rediscovering the Indus civilisation") in the Magazine of the Friends of the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, Spring 2016.
Read a review in Current World Archaeology, 74, 2015.
i. The Seventy
Great Mysteries of the Ancient World
edited by Brian M.
(2001: Thames & Hudson)
--the section, “Ancient and Undeciphered
ii. The Oxford Companion to the Book
edited by Michael
Suarez and Henry Woudhuysen
(2010: Oxford University Press)
--the first section,
iii. The Great Archaeologists
edited by Brian Fagan
(2014: Thames & Hudson)
--biographical entries on Jean-Francois Champollion, Henry Rawlinson and Michael Ventris)
INDIAN HISTORY AND CULTURE
1. Books on SATYAJIT RAY
Satyajit Ray: The Inner Eye
(1989/1990: Andre Deutsch/University of California Press;
2nd edn, I.B. Tauris/Oxford University Press (India), 2004)
--"A glorious book, a feast of research and insight."
(Films and Filming)
--"Mr Robinson's close analysis of the warp and woof of Mr Ray's work makes an almost unanswerable case for the defence."
--"A signal salute to integrity"
(Lindsay Anderson, The Spectator)
thorough, often perceptive and at times highly entertaining"
Rushdie, London Review of Books)
--"An extraordinarily good, detailed and selfless book"
(V. S. Naipaul, Nobel laureate in literature)
--"I have read this book with profound admiration for its research and the manner in which it has integrated the details. It is an important document as well as a literary contribution."
(R. K. Narayan)
The Chess Players and Other Screenplays
(1989: Faber and Faber, with a preface by Satyajit Ray)
the screenplays of Satyajit Ray's films The Chess Players and Deliverance, and the screenplay of Ray's unmade science-fiction film, The Alien, edited by AR
Read a related feature by AR ("Satyajit Ray's The Chess Players") in History Today, July 2007.
Read a related book review by AR ("The Last King in India") in History Today, June 2014.
Satyajit Ray: A Vision of Cinema
(2005: I.B. Tauris, with photographs by Nemai Ghosh)
--"This book makes
the ideal supplement to Robinson's Satyajit
Ray: The Inner Eye, generally rated the definitive English-language
(Philip Kemp, Sight and Sound)
--"an elegant photo-biography of this immensely powerful director, ... packed with drawings and stills from his 30-plus films. Glancing through it makes one wonder whether it would matter if Hollywood ceased to exist. The problem with Ray is that no single frame can capture the haunting heart of his cinema, but this volume is the closest we may get." (Christopher Fowler, The Independent on Sunday)
--"a great book"
Apu Trilogy: Satyajit Ray and the Making of an Epic
(2011: I.B. Tauris)
--"In this study, Ray's biographer draws on a deep immersion in the master's works. He explains not only the genesis of the trilogy on film, and Ray's battles to give his vision form, but its roots in Indian culture. Robinson keeps faith with Ray's own polymathic talents to show how history, art, literature and music all dance behind the haunting shadows on screen."
(Boyd Tonkin, The Independent)
Read a related feature by AR (''Restored Apu Trilogy returns Satyajit Ray's humane work to theaters") in The New York Times, 10 May 2015.
Listen to a feature about the US screenings of the restored Apu Trilogy broadcast on National Public Radio, All Things Considered, 20 May 2015.
i. full-page entry on Satyajit Ray to the current Encyclopaedia Britannica
ii. filmed interview about Satyajit Ray's The Music Room contributed as an extra on the DVD release of the film in the Criterion Collection (2011), and a printed interview with Ray contributed to the booklet accompanying the Criterion DVD release
iii. programme notes for Satyajit Ray film retrospective at BFI Southbank in London, August-October 2013,
Read a review of the retrospective by AR in The Lancet, 31 August 2013.
iv. interview with Ray and article on Ray as an illustrator
in Sight and Sound, September 2013, and longer version of interview
broadcast on BBC Radio 4, The Film Programme, 8 August 2013
vi. selected portraits of Ray by Nemai Ghosh
with a note by AR, 2013
vii. video essay about the making of Satyajit Ray's Apu Trilogy contributed as an extra on the DVD release of the film in the Criterion Collection (2015)
2. Books on RABINDRANATH TAGORE
The Art of Rabindranath Tagore
(1989: Andre Deutsch, with a foreword by Satyajit Ray)
which was the first book to carry accurate reproductions of Tagore's paintings, based on an exhibition of his paintings and drawings at the Barbican Centre, London and the Oxford Museum of Modern Art,
organised by AR in 1986
Read a related review by AR on Tagore's art in The Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 2012.
Read a related feature by AR on Tagore's art at On Being, 2014.
Rabindranath Tagore: The Myriad-Minded Man
(1995: Bloomsbury/St Martin’s Press, pb edn 1997; new pb
edn I.B. Tauris, 2009, with a foreword by Anita Desai)—with Krishna Dutta
admirably straightforward, readable, lively, informative"
(J. D. F. Jones, The Financial Times)
--"It has been a pleasure to read a well-written, well-researched and well-documented biography"
(Kathleen Raine, The Tablet)
--"The entire book was a revelation to me."
(Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, Nobel laureate in physics)
--"One has waited a very long time for a biography of Tagore that did justice to a far more complex and curious mind and life than simply respectful and circumspect accounts allowed. Here it is: thorough, balanced, intelligent, and addressing every aspect of a truly astonishing artist, his life and times."
--"a superb biography"
(Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker, in 2011, the 150th anniversary of Tagore's birth)
The Post Office by Rabindranath Tagore
(1996: St Martin's Press, with illustrations by Michael McCurdy, and a preface by Anita Desai)—translator with Krishna Dutta
Rabindranath Tagore: An Anthology
(1997: Picador/St Martin's Press; pbk edn Picador India, 1999)—editor and translator with Krishna Dutta
--"This new anthology, edited by Tagore's biographers, is an authoritative introduction to his work."
(Robert Nye, Literary Review)
--"This well-selected anthology brings together a vivid range of [Tagore's] work: memoirs, short stories, extracts from a novel, a play, and two extraordinary conversations with Einstein. Numerous well-produced photographs add to the atmosphere. The editors provide excellent introductions to each section, a glossary and helpful notes ... A sumptuous book to celebrate Tagore's life."
(Jeremy Worman, Time Out)
Selected Letters of Rabindranath Tagore
(1997: Cambridge University Press; pbk edn Foundation Books, India, 2005, with a foreword by Amartya Sen, Nobel laureate in economics)—editor and translator with Krishna Dutta
trove for anyone interested in modern India's intellectual and cultural
history, beautifully produced and packed with helpful editorial matter."
(Sunil Khilnani, The Independent
--"a triumphant work of scholarship, expertly annotated and beautifully designed."
(Patrick French, The Daily Telegraph)
--"Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson have established themselves as the pre-eminent Tagore scholars."
(K. Natwar Singh, Asian Age)
--"No future editor will be able to ignore the high editorial standard Dutta and Robinson have set in this book."
(Shyamal Kumar Sarkar, Visva-Bharati Quarterly)
Read "The mathematician and the mystic" in Resurgence, May/June 2011, a feature by AR on the conversations about reality between Albert Einstein and Rabindranath Tagore, based on a journal article, "Einstein and Tagore", in the Journal of Consciousness Studies, 1995
3. Other Indian Books
The Coasts of India by Ashwin Mehta
(1987: Thames & Hudson, photographs by Ashwin Mehta, with an introductory essay by AR)
Maharaja: The Spectacular Heritage of Princely India
(1988: Thames & Hudson, pb edn 2009, with photographs by Sumio Uchiyama, and text by AR)
--"first published in 1988, ... the [paperback edition] remains a stunning depiction of a world of wealth, spectacle and excess"
(Juliet Gardiner, History Today)
Noon in Calcutta: Short Stories from Bengal
(1992: Bloomsbury/Viking India, with a preface by Anita Desai; pbk edn Penguin India, 1993)—editor and translator with Krishna Dutta
--"Noon in Calcutta is a boldly diverse selection of Bengali short fiction, ranging from fantasy to satire to hard-edged realism. Its editors acknowledge ... Rabindranath Tagore ... as the father of the genre by putting him at both ends of this fascinating and readable collection."
(Tania Glyde, The Times)
India: A Short History
(2014: Thames & Hudson)
Read a related feature by AR ("Free Indian science") in Nature, 3 April 2014.
Read a review in The Times Literary Supplement, 4 April 2014.
Listen to an interview broadcast on Newstalk (Dublin), Talking History, 11 May 2014.
Read a related feature by AR ("The Indus script") in Current World Archaeology, 64, 2014.
Listen to an interview broadcast on BBC World Service, Science in Action, 22 May 2014.
Read a review in Virtuoso Life, August 2014.
Read a review in the Library Journal, 8 August 2014.
Read a review in History Today, December 2014.