Coopersmith interweaves historical anecdotes and scientific accuracy. For instance, we learn how Fahrenheit was important for heat during the Eighteenth century; we also learn that Daniel Fahrenheit "didn't have a very auspicious start to his career. His parents died of mushroom poisoning and his legal guardians arranged for him to train as a book-keeper; but Daniel wasn't interested, stole some money, and ended up with a warrant being issued for his arrest..." And it's not the end of his story...Another story concerns Thomas Young. Young was an english physicist who used the term "energy" in 1807 during a course at the Royal Institution instead of the 'Leibnizian' Vis Viva. He was the first to use this word in physics since its introduction by Johann Bernoulli in 1717 in his letter to Pierre Varignon. Young was also a "child prodigy of the best kind, 'the kind that matures into a adult prodigy'. At the age two he was fluent reader, by six he had read through the Bible twice, and by 13 he was teaching himself Hebrew, Chaldean, Syriac, Samaritan, Arabic, Persian, Turkish and Ethiopic." Just amazing...
The book follows different tracks to explain how each of the "Feynman's blocks - mechanic energy, heat, ..., as called by Coopersmith - developed itself and how these blocks merged together to give the principle of energy conservation. You can understand easily that I strongly recommend the reading of this book for specialists or non-specialists. Why is such a book so important ? Learning energy history is key to understanding what energy is. Knowing energy is key to understanding what the main energetic problematics are nowadays.
Jennifer Coopersmith, "Energy: a subtle concept", Oxford University Press, USA (August 13, 2010)