David Cahan is the Charles Bessey Professor of History at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. He is the editor of both Hermann von Helmholtz's Science and Culture: Popular and Philosophical Essays and From Natural Philosophy to the Sciences: Writing the History of Nineteenth-Century Science, both published by the University of Chicago Press.
"David Cahan has written a masterful biography whose implicit argument is to present Hermann von Helmholtz as a grand unifier. He does this by following the thread of culture that bound together the life, work, and context of his subject. Given the centrifugal tendencies in each of these realms--the ultimate dissolution of a shared German identity, the increasing specialization of scientific research, and the modern fracture of the self, Cahan's achievement is impressive. By bringing so many disparate sources and topics into coherence, Helmholtz mirrors the very figure it portrays."--Gabriel Finkelstein, History, University of Colorado Denver