Book review: Reinventing the Future - Thomas Bass

Aug 19

In my experience, the ‘conversation’ format invariable leads to interesting books. Bass’ ‘Reinventing the Future’ is no exception. There are 11 conversations with leading scientists, spread over 240 pages. That means that every scientist gets sufficient space to explore his or her ideas in depth. The selection of people is imaginative: there is a mix of discipline, gender, culture and character which is well judged. The conversations are invariably well crafted; it’s obvious that Bass has done his homework very well. A number of chapters are so insightful that I keep returning to this book again and again. James Black, a pharmacologist who discovered cimetidine and beta blockers, offers a view on pharmaceutical Discovery research which, at the time of the interview (1989), must have been simply visionary. I also derived much insight from Thomas Adeoye Lambo’s fusion of Western and traditional ideas on mental illness when studying psychotics and schizophrenics in the villages of his native Nigeria. As an update on important scientific theories this book is slightly dated by now. But as an account of how great scientific personalities work it remains as fresh and relevant as when it was written.

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