Thousands of books have been written on the history of Western science. The list
below gives details and brief descriptions of a hundred or so that are especially
good introductions to the field (or parts of it). The list is, by design, selective
and idiosyncratic. The books on it were chosen because they combine solid
scholarship, broad coverage, and an accessible style. Most include extensive
bibliographies of more specialized books and articles. Virtually all are in print as
of this writing [Fall 1998], and should be readily available through large
bookstores and their on-line equivalents.
The list does not include articles, primary sources, or books that deal only in part
with historical issues. Nor, for the moment, does it include works on the histories
of mathematics, technology, and medicine. It makes no attempt to include non-Western
scientific traditions. These limits are designed both to keep the list to a
manageable size and to keep it within the bounds of its compilers' expertise. Like
all arbitrary limits, they are subject to change.
Information on publishers, publication dates, and in-print status were accurate as
of this writing and will be updated periodically if necessary. The abbreviations "U"
(for university) and "UP" (for university press) are used throughout.
Thanks to all who contributed suggestions and commented on various drafts of the
list, especially: Stephen Brush, Rich Kremer, David Wilson, Herbert Folsom, Susan
Abrams, and Mark Solovey. Special thanks to Constance Malpas, who encouraged the
project at its outset, and to Melissa Oliver, who made possible its transition to
the web. Suggested additions, deletions, corrections, or other changes are welcomed