The New Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science unfolds a vast panorama of science with a clarity unequaled in any other book of our time.
“The most up-to-date, the most exciting, and the most readable general account of the spurheads of modern science,” wrote Derek J. de Solla Price in Science on the appearance of the two-volume edition in 1960.
In the five years since, every field of scientific endeavor has witnessed discoveries and achievements of revolutionary impact. To keep the modern reader abreast of the meaning and implications of these significant advances, this highly acclaimed work has now been completely revised, updated, and expanded almost page by page—and is now available in this compact, one-volume edition.
Encyclopedic in scope, The New Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science is a work to be read and enjoyed. In nontechnical language, it offers a comprehensive picture of the whole of modern science, explaining the basic ideas, highlighting the important developments, pointing out the meaning of today’s scientific discoveries.
Following the format of the previous two-volume edition, Dr. Asimov tells what has been learned about the earth and its atmosphere and the space beyond; the nature of matter and the atom; the meaning of relativity; the natural laws and phenomena that have shaped our technology; the living cell and the chemistry of life; the biological heritage of mankind; and, finally, the human brain and human behavior.
Bringing the entire spectrum of modern science into focus, Dr. Asimov devotes some 70,000 new words and 120 new pages of illustrations to the most recent developments on all frontiers. He makes intelligible the importance of quasars, exploding galaxies, X-ray stars, and other new radioastromical evidence; the sudden rise of “noble-gas chemistry”; and recent breakthroughs in our knowledge of the genetic code. He tells the full story of masers and lasers, of solar and fuel cells, and of nucleic-acid molecules and memory. And he explains scientific aspects of the U.S. and Russian space programs, from the Ranger photographic studies to the technological advances that are brining nearer manned travel to the moon.
For the alert mind seeking the key to the technicalities of today’s scientific headlines, for the student eager to understand individual subjects in a meaningful context, for the professional scientist wanting to keep abreast of advances in neighboring fields, The New Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science is certain to rank as a virtual “bible of science.”
Also known as “Asimov’s Revenge.” (Well, I call it that. Sometimes. OK, once.)
Asimov was mightily displeased with The Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science (q.v.) and eventually refused to have anything to do with Leon Svirsky, the editor who had gutted it. When Basic Books approached him for a revision, he agreed but set stringent conditions which were, by and large, met.
The result is a much better book. The actual number of pages is about the same, but the revision is some 20% longer—most of the material removed by Svirsky had been restored, and new discoveries and advances of the early 1960’s were included. The illustrations are also more numerous. (Unlike The Intelligent Man’s Guide to Science, too, the pages with illustrations are all numbered, so the page count is slightly higher.)
Unfortunately, there was another slip-up, and Basic Books hired somebody else to do the index (and charged Asimov $500 for it). He was again livid and vowed never to let anybody else do another index for one of his books. Actually, as with the Svirskyized version of the original Guide to Science, the index only seems bad if you compare it with how Asimov would have done it himself (as in Asimov’s Guide to Science).
My main comments about the book remain, however. Perhaps as a result of overexposure, I don’t like it as much as most other people. The vaguely disorganized feel of the first edition gets worse—the history of space travel is spread out over several sections, for example, a chunk here and a chunk there. Again, I don’t think it’s a bad book, but I do tend to feel rather lukewarm about it myself.
And, with Asimov’s New Guide to Science still in print, there’s no real reason to own this edition, even if you can find it.