Its exactly that Forrest Gump-like quality of Priestleys life that piqued Johnsons interest in the somewhat forgotten scientist/theologian/political thinker, who often ended up residing in historical footnotes. I was going to write a broader book on innovation and discovery, and I stumbled on this story of Priestleys oxygen experiments and the American connection, Johnson says. There was one turning point where I read that Jefferson said Priestley had the single biggest effect on his religious beliefs and had even kept him a Christian. I thought, This is a side of the Founding Fathers I hadnt heard. Im going to write a whole book on this guy.
Johnson will discuss and sign the book tonight at 7:30 p.m. at the Tattered Cover, 2526 East Colfax Avenue; admission is free. For more information, call 303-322-7727 or go to www.tatteredcover.com.
Mon., Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m., 2009