Ordering life: Karl Jordan and the naturalist tradition.
Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012.
Octavo, dustwrapper, 376 pp. black and white photographs.
Karl Jordan (1861-1959) dedicated his long life to naming, ordering, and explaining biological diversity, describing thousands of new species in the process. This book explores the career of this prominent figure as he worked to ensure a continued role for natural history museums and the field of taxonomy in the rapidly changing world of twentieth-century science. Jordan made an effort to practice good taxonomy and secure patronage in a world that would soon be transformed by wars and economic and political upheaval. Kristin Johnson traces his response to these changes and shows that broader social context in which scientists work is just as important to the project of naming, describing, classifying, and, ultimately, explaining life.