With chapters organized by geographic area, Leon focuses on the various schools of thought that sprang up in the Greco-Roman world and predominated thought for centuries. Her writing is accessibly and can verge on the breezy. This is definitely not a textbook, nor is it meant to be an in-depth look at the people and beliefs of the time, instead functioning as a general overview. Occasionally the colloquialisms used in the text bring the reader up short and throw them out of the information stream but they also serve to offer a bit of levity in the reading. Since the chapters are arranged by area, there are some needless repetitions about historical figures and their schools but this is only evident on a straight through reading. If the book were to be used more as a dip and delve, this would cease being a problem.
Also, and this is no reflection on Leon at all, just as in school, I found it nigh impossible to keep the people straight. Can I chalk this up to not being scientifically or mathematically inclined myself? As such, I found the information on the superstitions to be most interesting. I'm certain I'd already run across all the scientists and mathematicians who contributed to our current understanding today while in school. But the failed or wrong thinking is usually kept out of books, depriving us of some of the fascinating quirks that make past civilizations so intriguing and human. Leon has re-animated these interesting tidbits here for the lay person. Armchair scientists will enjoy the heck out of this book of equal parts history, science, and just plain crazy ideas.
Thanks to Inkwell Management, I have two copies of this book to give away. To enter, leave a comment below with a valid e-mail address and I will choose the two lucky winners on August 9th.