Try Journey Through Genius, by William Dunham.
Every chapter mixes historical account with a mathematical discussion of a landmark theorem.
For an account of contemporary mathematicians, try
Protagonists of the Twentieth Century From Hilbert to Wiles, by Bartocci et al.
Not much is really known about general "scientific environment". What we really have is only books and fragments of scientists and references on them in other works. It is commonly acknowledged that most writings did not survive. So we cannot have an adequate picture of the general scientific environment. The most developed sciences were mathematics and ...
For different perspectives:
Richard Olson, Technology and Science in Ancient Civilizations (2010)
G.E.RLloyd, The Revolutions of Wisdom: Studies in the Claims and Practice of Ancient Greek Science (1989)
G.E.R. Lloyd & Nathan Sivin, The Way and the Word: Science and Medicine in Early China and Greece (2002).
More specifically on mechanics, see:
The closest I can think of is Pais's Subtle is the Lord, although it is not a history textbook but rather Einstein's scientific biography, which literally retraces his steps based on the author's own interviews, among other things. He does also go into some mathematical details unlike the usual "literary" biographies. On differential geometry and the role ...
To have one man’s steps distilled into textbook form is a lot to ask: who teaches a course on that? The next best thing might be the proceedings and collections in Einstein Studies (with contributions of the same John Norton):
1. Einstein and the history of general relativity (1989),
3. Studies in the history of general relativity (1992),
5. The ...
I don't entirely understand the question, but this book is probably relevant:
J. H. Manheim, The Genesis of Point Set Topology (1964).
I must have borrowed it from a library a long time ago. It is out of print. Used copies go for about a hundred quid. I suppose Dover might look kindly on a request for a reprint.
This is very probably also relevant (and it ...
I. M. James, History of Topology.
This is a collection of 40 essays by different authors, on topics related mostly to manifolds and algebraic topology.
Perhaps the page
will be of interest for aspects of topology before Poincaré came on the scene.
I do not know if you ever came across "Remembering Sophia Kovalevskaja" which is a quite curious book written by Michele Audin. It is not "popular" in that the math discussions in the book are at a very high level and it is not "academic" in that the way in which it is written is more towards literary style. A very interesting reading in my ...
I agree that there are (surprisingly?) few books on the history of chemistry.
The most succinct one is probably C. Cobb, H. Goldwhite; "Creations of Fire - Chemistry's Lively History from Alchemy to the Atomic Age"
Much more detailed, although somewhat old now, is A. Ladenburg; "Lectures on the History of the Development of Chemistry Since the Time of ...
All of the self-help books out there belong into the dubious category.
Whether it is about psychology, interpersonal skills, psychology, medicine or especially nutrition; and the biggest loser has to be economics.
Many psychology research findings are in a replication crisis, not the least because they are based on findings in weird people. Yet, the '...
I find Russo's Forgotten Revolution very instructive for the breadth of sources he draws upon if nothing else, although some of his reconstructions are controversial. Zhmud's Origin of the History of Science in Classical Antiquity is also panoramic, and covers the pre-Hellenistic period. Sambursky's Physical World of the Greeks and other works are somewhat ...
A good book to survey is The Chemical Philosophy by Allen G. Debus. It is less about physics specifically but will give you a good picture of what a scientist thought he was supposed to be doing way back when.
You can see along the way how each expert had their own versions of Claim, Counterclaim, Evidence and Argument or Proof. They can hardly be blamed ...
René Dugas was influenced by Pierre Duhem (1861-1916), the founder of the field of the history of medieval physics. Duhem's fundamental thesis in the history of physics is known as the "continuity thesis" (cf. Hannam's The Genesis of Science for a semi-popular introduction) which is in contrast to what could be called Kuhn's "discontinuity or rupture thesis" ...
Ioan James' "Remarkable Mathematicians: From Euler to von Neumann" complements Bartocci et al's book (mentioned in another answer) by providing fairly good biographical sketches of mathematicians (60 different profiles) over a time period from roughly 1700 - 1950.
Ronald Calinger's "Classics of Mathematics" contains short (1-2 page) profiles of many ...
The prime example is psychoanalysis. Thousands of books were written, popular and not. But the general consensus today if that this is a very weak science.
Other examples are homeopathy, astrology, and UFOlogy. Unlike psychoanalysis (which is a weak science) these are not sciences at all. Nevertheless an enormous amount of
literature was written on each of ...
There were a number of pop-sci books written by non-mathematicians (physiciscs, chemists, etc.) where the notion was spread that $\aleph_1$ denotes the cardinal of the continuum.
For example, George Gamow, One, Two, Three... Infinity
Although not a text book, a very enjoyable account that covers the history of general relativity from Einstein (and before) to the current research and understanding is "The Perfect Theory: A Century of Geniuses and the Battle over General Relativity" by Pedro G. Ferreira1 .
A good example are the books written by Percival Lowell about the canals on Mars: Mars, Mars and its Canals and Mars as the Abode of Life. Lots of people believed that this was a proof of the existence of an advanced Martian civilization.
John Maynard Smith in Evolutionary Biology.
(Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould are/were probably the most famous writers on Evolutionary Biology, but both's famous writings were for popular audiences, and nontechnical.)