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July 14, 1978

Biology in the 19th Century: Problems of Form, Function, and Transformation

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago

JAMA. 1978;240(2):150. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290020072036

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The Construction of Modern Science: Mechanisms and Mechanics, by Richard S. Westfall, 171 pp, 30 illus, $12.95, paper $5.95, New York, Cambridge University Press, 1978.

These two volumes, addressed to the undergraduate student in the history of science, originally appeared in 1971, and now they are again available in reprint editions, offered by a different publisher. Coleman's book can be warmly recommended to physicians who want an overview of biological thought in the 19th century. The brief compass of the volume permits only a highly selective approach. Coleman discusses a few specific topics, especially the development of cell theory, the concept of function as physiology in its broad biological sense, "transformation" as the concept of evolutionary development, and the various "sciences of man" that came to prominence in the last century. A detailed bibliographic essay provides helpful suggestion for further reading, but the references carry us only through 1969.