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Book Review:

The Glass Bathyscaphe
(How Glass Changed the World)

By Alan Macfarlane and Gerry Martin

Published By Profile Books Ltd.

The Glass Bathyscaphe
The Glass Bathyscaphe

The Glass Bathyscaphe takes a look at the origins and technological developments of glass making throughout history. The book details the innovations made possible by glass in the fields of science, medicine, technology and art; tracing the beginnings of glass manufacture, from it’s accidental discovery by the civilizations of the Near-East, through to the advancements made in the Renaissance and right up to the present day.

Where this book differs from others, which simply look at the chronology of glass making, Alan Macfarlane and Gerry Martin are unique in that they attempt to explore the way this material has contributed to the shaping of Western Civilisation. Although it may seem obvious to point out that much of today’s technologies, such as optical lenses, medical and scientific instruments, plastics, light bulbs or electricity, would not be possible without the discovery of glass; the authors go even further, exploring the cultural and anthropological impact glass has made on the forming of both our Civilisation and our sense of personal identity.

Our fascination with glass has permeated every aspect of Western Civilisation’s cultural language, and the authors of The Glass Bathyscaphe go some way towards explaining why this has occurred. Although the subject matter of this book can be quite scholarly, with the authors drawing on the fields of archaeology, various sciences, art, the psychology of perception, anthropology and philosophy to explain their point; the book is actually quite accessible to the average reader, and should provide a rewarding read for anyone with an interest in the history of glass making.

For more information about this book you can also visit Alan Macfarlane’s Website:

The Glass Bathyscaphe is available in hard back,
priced £15.99 (ISBN: 1861974000),
and is also available in paperback,
priced £7.99 (ISBN: 1861973942)

As a special offer to visitors to this Website, The Glass Bathyscaphe can be bought postage free directly from Profile Books Ltd. Simply telephone 020 7404 3001 and quote the phrase ‘Glass Fairs’ to take advantage of this offer.

Review By David Hier


Please note that the content of this article is the sole intellectual property of the author. No reproduction or reference to the text of this article may be made without the express permission of the author.

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