As with books like Asimov’s Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, this is not a book to read. (Yes, yes. It’s not even a book. So sue me.) It’s a huge, laminated wall-chart, about two feet by six, listing the main achievements in biology by year from the earliest times through the 1980’s, peaking in the 1950’s. It would be excellent to hang up in a high school biology classroom—it’s even got a half-dozen or so funny pictures. Inasmuch, however, as it just lists year/discoverer/discovery, it conveys surprisingly little information and has absolutely no narrative flow or structure (hence it’s unreadability). A book like A Short History of Biology would do better so far as that goes.

There is, however, a major reason for not enjoying it as a read, and that is the physical difficulties involved. Assuming one doesn’t actually hang it on a wall, one has to spread it out or roll up one end while you unroll the other. This last, of course, is exactly the way that books were read in antiquity, and it is because of the difficulty involved that people invented codexes, the modern-type of book.

This “book” is the first of three wall-charts Asimov prepared for Carolina Biological Supply, the other two being The History of Mathematics and The History of Chemistry (which isn’t listed in I. Asimov).

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...