The recent upswing in interest in popular science has given rise to explorations of the history and inner workings of the subject itself. Michael Brooks’ contribution to the field looks at scientific discoveries in their chaotic and conflict-filled contexts, and at the frequently fascinating personalities surrounding them. Here, as in his previous 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense, Brooks’ clear and concise style efficiently conveys an infectious enthusiasm for his topic. Free Radicals’ tightly plotted tales of rebellion, drug use and Machiavellian intrigue in the pursuit of enlightenment fulfils Brook’s stated aim of humanising a discipline that can often appear unsympathetically distant.
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Review by Johanna Mackin