A Well-Ordered Thing
Michael D. Gordin
About the BookDmitrii Mendeleev (1834–1907) is a name we recognize, but perhaps only as the creator of the periodic table of elements. Generally, little else has been known about him. A Well-Ordered Thing is an authoritative biography of Mendeleev that draws a multifaceted portrait of his life for the first time. As Michael Gordin reveals, Mendeleev was not only a luminary in the history of science, he was also an astonishingly wide-ranging political and cultural figure. From his attack on Spiritualism to his failed voyage to the Arctic and his near-mythical hot-air balloon trip, this is the story of an extraordinary maverick. The ideals that shaped his work outside science also led Mendeleev to order the elements and, eventually, to engineer one of the most fascinating scientific developments of the nineteenth century. A Well-Ordered Thing is a classic work that tells the story of one of the world’s most important minds.
Michael D. Gordin is Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History at Princeton University, where he also serves as the Director of the Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts. His books include Scientific Babel and Five Days in August (Princeton).
"A serious and interesting exploration of the life and times of Dmitrii Mendeleev."—Carmen Giunta, Foundations of Chemistry
"The periodic chart now hangs on the wall of countless classrooms, and occupies textbooks, websites and T-shirts. . . . Working long before nuclear scientists reached Los Alamos, Mendeleev was this kingdom’s first successful cartographer."—Simon Schaffer, London Review of Books
"Highly readable."—Bernadette Bensaude-Vincent, Nature
"Engaging. . . . [T]he most comprehensive biography in English about Mendeleev."—Ursula Klein, Physics Today
"This fine book presents a compelling portrait of Mendeleev as a Russian thinker, a member of the small cohort of Petersburg elite who shaped Russian science, politics, and culture. . . . For anyone interested in Mendeleev or the place of science in late nineteenth-century Russia, this is required reading."—Mark B. Adams, Slavic Review