Buy from Amazon

Thomas McGreevy

The Basis of Measurement Vol 1

The history of measurement doesn't sound like a particularly gripping subject. So how well does this author succeed in making it interesting for the reader. I would say that he does reasonably well. A book like this is never going to be a bestseller, but if you're interested in where our system of measurements came from then you might like to read it. In particular if you were brought up on imperial measures you will find some questions answered. What does avoirdupois mean, and why on earth are their 5½ yards in a 'rod, pole or perch'? These, and many similar questions are discussed in this book.

The central theme of the book is the inconsistency in units of measurement, and how the authorities have tried to deal with it. Should there be a central standard, or is it better to have some 'natural definition'? Certainly action was necessary since, for instance it is claimed that there have been 68 different units of length called the ell, and that's just in one country alone (Switzerland). No wonder they were keen to adopt the metric system, and so leave this muddle behind. So maybe anyone who longs to go back to 'traditional' units of measurement should spend some time reading this book!