The Ascent of Jacob Bronowski (Hardcover)

The Life and Ideas of a Popular Science Icon

By Timothy Sandefur

Prometheus Books, 9781633885264, 384pp.

Publication Date: July 2, 2019

List Price: 25.00*
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Best remembered today for his blockbuster documentary series The Ascent of Man, Jacob Bronowski spent decades explaining scientific ideas to laypersons on television and radio. A true Renaissance man, Bronowski was not only a scientist, but a philosopher and a poet. In this first-ever biography, author Timothy Sandefur examines the extraordinary accomplishments and fascinating range of thought of this brilliant man.

As Sandefur documents, the extent of Bronowki's interests and achievements is staggering. He revolutionized the study of William Blake, invented smokeless coal, and proved Australopithecus africanus was a relative of humans. He was a close friend of Leo Szilard (inventor of the atomic bomb) and William Empson (the prominent poet). He won the British equivalent of an Emmy for a radio play he wrote, sparked the "Two Cultures" controversy of the 1960s, led the mission sent to assess the effects of the atomic bomb at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and cofounded the Salk Institute for Biological Studies with Jonas Salk. A marvelously eloquent and compelling speaker, Bronowski spent the last half of his life teaching the possibilities of humanism, freedom, science, and peace.

This thoroughly researched and eloquently written biography will spark renewed interest in one of the great public intellectuals of the twentieth century.

About the Author

Timothy Sandefur is vice president for litigation and holds the Duncan Chair in Constitutional Government at the Goldwater Institute. Besides litigating important cases in constitutional law, he is also the author of several books, including Frederick Douglass: Self-Made Man; Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st Century America (coauthored with Christina Sandefur); The Permission Society; The Conscience of The Constitution; and The Right to Earn a Living. He has also written dozens of scholarly articles on subjects ranging from Indian law to antitrust, slavery and the Civil War, and political issues in Shakespeare, ancient Greek drama, and Star Trek. He is an adjunct scholar with the Cato Institute and a graduate of Hillsdale College and Chapman University School of Law.

Praise For The Ascent of Jacob Bronowski: The Life and Ideas of a Popular Science Icon

“Before Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, and Carl Sagan, there was Jacob Bronowski, a world-class scientist, caring humanist, elegant poet, magisterial writer, and inimitable host of the first documentary science series, The Ascent of Man. That millennials and Generation Z are unfamiliar with his name makes this biography—the first of this Renaissance man—all the more vital, as science becomes ripped apart by political divisiveness and the need for a unifying message calls out for a voice. Listen to Dr. Bronowski and read this book.”
—Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, monthly columnist for Scientific American, Presidential Fellow at Chapman University, and author of Heavens on Earth, The Moral Arc, and The Believing Brain

“A poet, a mathematician, a historian, and, most of all, a moral philosopher, Jacob Bronowski was a spellbinding speaker on radio and television. Listening to him was like sitting at the feet of a twentieth-century Socrates. His profound thoughts on the human condition are as relevant today as they were fifty years ago, and Timothy Sandefur has done us a great service by writing this book.”
—Basil Mahon, author of The Forgotten Genius of Oliver Heaviside and coauthor of Faraday, Maxwell, and the Electromagnetic Field
“Before Tyson, before Gould, before Sagan, there was Jacob Bronowski. He was a major force for opening the minds of citizens to the importance and wonder of science, as perhaps only a Renaissance man, a poet-turned-mathematician, could be.”
—Stanley A. Rice, professor, Southeastern Oklahoma State University, and author of Scientifically Thinking: How to Liberate Your Mind, Solve the World’s Problems, and Embrace the Beauty of Science

“Throughout this lucid account, Bronowski comes across as a complex and fascinating figure whose own writings merit a renewed readership today.”     
Publishers Weekly