Gaby Wood’s book seemed to have been the perfect tome for me: for years I’ve been entranced by its major topics – Jacques de Vaucanson’s writing automata and digesting duck and Wolfgang von Kempelen’s ‘The Turk’ chess playing robot. I suppose like any young boy, clockwork, robots and artificial humans had become an abiding interest.
Unfortunately, the book doesn’t live up to its title. It’s portraiture, not history. And it’s certainly not as rigorous as I’d have liked.