From the bestselling author of Everything Bad is Good for You, Steven Johnson's The Invention of Air tells the incredible story of scientist and radical Joseph Priestley, who invented soda water, discovered oxygen, and incited rioting with his political views.
In 1794, Joseph Priestley - amateur scientist, ordained minister and radical thinker - set sail for America to escape persecution. Steven Johnson tells his incredible story: the discovery of oxygen, the invention of a science, the founding of a church, and, with the great minds of his time, the development of the United States itself. But Priestley's revolutionary ideas put him in terrible danger.
Johnson uses the progress of Priestley and his colleagues not merely to describe the wonder of discovery, but to show us how we have come to understand the world, how far we have travelled with the power of human enquiry - and how one man's curiosity can help build an entire country.
'A shot of the purest oxygen'
'Packed with excellent stuff'
'Entertaining ... clear-sighted and intelligent'
'As full of ingenuity and as delightful as its subject'
The New York Times
'Johnson paints Priestley not as a man of the past but precisely the sort of figure the world needs more than ever'
New York Post
Steven Johnson is the author of the acclaimed books Everything Bad is Good for You, Mind Wide Open, Where Good Ideas Come From, The Ghost Map, Emergence and Interface Culture. His writing appeared in the Guardian, the New Yorker, Nation and Harper's, as well as the op-ed pages of The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. He is a Distinguished Writer In Residence at NYU's School Of Journalism, and a Contributing Editor to Wired.