This is a very unusual book. It brings to the English speaking reader a masterpiece written some 50 years ago by one of the greatest minds of the 20th century--Nicholai Aleksandrovich Bernstein--considered the founder of many contemporary fields of science such as biomechanics, motor control, and physiology of activity. Divided into two parts, this volume's first section is a translation of the Russian book On Dexterity and Its Development. It presents, in a very reader-friendly style, Bernstein's major ideas related to the development and control of voluntary movements in general, and to the notion of dexterity, in particular. Although very few scientific works remain interesting to the reader 50 years after they were written, this volume--now available for the first time in English--is a rare exception to this rule. His ideas are certainly not obsolete. Actually, we are just starting to grasp the depth and breadth of his thinking, especially his analysis of the complex notion of dexterity. The second section provides both a historical and a contemporary perspective on Bernstein's ideas.
The original work was directed at a wide audience ranging from specialists in biomechanics and motor behavior, to coaches, neurologists, physical therapists, athletes, and even inquisitive college and high school students. The chapters contributed by contemporary scientists mirror Bernstein's style and present new findings in the areas of biomechanics, motor control, and motor development in a way that would be both understandable to non-specialists in these areas, and informative for professionals working in different areas related to human movement. All those interested in the origins and mechanisms of the production of voluntary movements, irrespective of their educational and professional background, will find this book valuable. In addition, the unique history and composition of this text will make it helpful and attractive to historians and philosophers of science.