is Professor of Anthropological Science at the University of Cambridge
and a Fellow of King's College and of the British Academy. He is a well-known
author and television presenter. His fourteen books include Witchcraft
in Tudor and Stuart England, The
Origins of English Individualism and The
Riddle of the Modern World.
GERRY MARTIN is a former Managing Director and co-founder of
Eurotherm Ltd. He has long been a historian of glass instruments and
"Glass is one of the greatest accidents in the history of humankind.
This is the first full story of its development and effects. Alan Macfarlane
and Gerry Martin present an account of how glass has been made and used
from its discovery in the ancient Near East, through Roman civilisation,
the European Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution,
and up to the present.
They not only chart the history of glass technology, but also show the
remarkable effect glass has had on every aspect of western culture.
Glass windows made the cold north of Europe habitable and civilised.
Without glass we would know little about the movement of stars and even
less about microbes. Our artists would draw without perspective and
our ships would steer without accurate navigation. There would be no
planes or cars, and probably no electricity.
In a brilliant and controversial exploration of the causes of east-west
differences the authors show the crucial role of glass in the divergence
of western and eastern civilisations, and in the process explain why
so many Japanese and Chinese wear glasses. Glass is so familiar that
we are hardly aware of it. This book brings glass and the world it has
made into sharp focus. It changes the way we see the past and the present."