Timothy Rice

The Perfectionists

The aim of science is not to open the door to infinite wisdom, but to set a limit to infinite error.

Rating: 3/5 – Middle of the road pop science.
Read if you like: Popular science books that emphasize historical figures.

I expected more from this book. While it did what felt like a decent job of covering the history of precision manufacturing, I felt like it focused too much on the people behind the various scientific and engineering advances and not enough on the actual methods.

I was really hoping this book would be a history of tools and in particular, I was hoping it would answer what I think is a very compelling question: How do you make precise instruments with imprecise tools? This was addressed very lightly, and always on the periphery of what was being discussed at any given time.

I also think this book would have greatly benefited from illustrations or even being not a book at all, but a video documentary instead. So much of the content would have been enhanced with visuals, and I often found myself looking for images of the tools and devices described in each chapter.

I expect someone with a less scientific background would find the book much more compelling than I did. There are many fascinating characters present and their stories are quite well told. The writing is excellent and the pace of the book never falters. It just didn’t really deliver what I wanted it to.

The Perfectionists on Amazon
The Perfectionists on Goodreads
My Goodreads Profile