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Willy LeyProphet of the Space Age$
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Jared S. Buss

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780813054438

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813054438.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 29 January 2020

Scholarly Twilight

Scholarly Twilight

(p.219) 9 Scholarly Twilight
Willy Ley

Jared S. Buss

University Press of Florida

Chapter 9 describes Ley’s declining prestige as both a rocket expert and a historian of science. As von Braun took center-stage, Ley retreated from the scene by devoting himself to his most ambitious histories of astronomy and zoology. Whereas Isis contributors had celebrated his earlier histories of science, a new generation of young historians excluded and ostracized Ley as a typical example of a scientist-turned-historian who wrote history backward. Younger historians viewed his style of popular writing as old-fashioned and self-serving. There is a larger story here about the academic institutionalization of the history of science during the 1960s and 1970s that may invite readers to ask, “What was lost?” Those readers might experience some degree of nostalgia for a time when academics and popularizers mixed ranks and shared goals.

Keywords:   history of astronomy, history of science, popular science, Willy Ley, Isis

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