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Nature and Culture

Peter Adey

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Reaktion Books
01 November 2014
Series: Earth
Air is an innovative cultural and scientific history that focuses on our attempts to understand air, to engineer and grapple with it, to make sense of it and find meaning in it. For as essential as air has been to our philosophical, scientific and technological pursuits, Peter Adey shows that it is through air that the artistic and literary imagination has been lifted. Exploring the work of established figures such as Marie Curie, Joseph Priestley and John Scott Haldane, as well as lesser-known pioneers, and including perspectives from painting, literature and poetry, this richly illustrated book will appeal to anyone interested in the science as well as the culture of this pervasive, often unregarded yet vital substance.
By:   Peter Adey
Imprint:   Reaktion Books
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 210mm,  Width: 148mm,  Spine: 18mm
Weight:   499g
ISBN:   9781780232560
ISBN 10:   178023256X
Series:   Earth
Pages:   224
Publication Date:   01 November 2014
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Peter Adey is professor of human geography in the Department of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London. His previous books include Aerial Life: Spaces, Mobilities, Affects (2010) and Mobility (2009).

Reviews for Air: Nature and Culture

Adey is skilled in multidisciplinary analysis and chooses his subjects carefully. In doing so, he follows in the footsteps of many of the people he studies: he renders air visible, thinkable; he exposes it to the possibility of study. . . . Adey has much in common with one of his subjects: French scientist Jules Etienne Marey, who used smoke and water vapor to make air visible as objects (planes, balloons) moved through it. His work resulted in stunning photographic prints. Adey has done with text (and one hundred superb, startling illustrations) what Marey did with smoke: he has produced results not only useful but beautiful, written in a language with the agility and grace to match his subject's complexity. -- Criticism Air has always been essential to life and to our philosophical, scientific, and technological pursuits. In this richly illustrated, informative book one discovers its incredible properties. -- Western Morning News An excellent exploration of how air has been represented in the arts for centuries. -- The Biologist How do you write a cultural and scientific history of something that is usually invisible and completely taken for granted? Adey has accepted the challenge and attempts to make sense of air and the ways it has shaped our physical and technological development. . . . The author effortlessly merges geography with social history and scientific theory and explains, for example, how the growth of towns and cities was closely linked to man's sudden harnessing of air. --- Geographical Magazine In vivid detail, Adey reveals how we have managed to view air simultaneously as our prime source of misery and as the cure for our miseries; to make air our technological and artistic playground and then abuse it as our dumping ground; and--ignoring the fact that our species evolved in this rich, warm mixture of gases and shouldn't expect to do any better than that--to persist in our attempts to improve and 'condition' air. A wonderfully written and designed book. -- Stan Cox, author of Losing Our Cool: Uncomfortable Truths About Our Air-Conditioned World Air drifts delightfully over a wide range of subjects, never dwelling on any for too long but reveling in the connections and cultural context of our relationship with air. It is also a physically beautiful volume, full of oil paintings and architectural diagrams, wind tunnels and prehistoric dragonflies. Adey's writing style is elegant--he addresses complex issues without slipping into jargon and is able to inject excitement into the subject without the text becoming stylized or distracting. . . . It is [his] ability to show us different perspectives and build new connections between ideas that enables Adey to turn ever-present, everyday air into something strange and magical. -- Lancet

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