"History is an alloy of all the materials that we have invented or discovered,manipulated,used,and abused,and each has its tale to tell." These are the words of the author,a professor of material sciences at Cornell University.He is obviously in love with the subject he teaches.He reminds me of one of my Chemistry professors who was in the lab on a Saturday afternoon when a student happened to come by,and said;"Do you have to work on Saturday's?" He replied;"Son this isn't work,it's my hobby." Reading this book,one gets the feeling you are just having a friendly discussion with him about the subject that is his work,interest,fascination,and most of all what his love resolves around.Just the opposite of a Librarian I was having a social chat with one day.I asked what she liked to read;and the reply stunned me."I really don't like to read much;I get too much of it at work every day".
Sass is a very good writer,particularly considering his profession.I don't say this as a slur;but generally good ,interesting writing is not the strong point of technical people.Carl Sagan is a great exception to this,and it shows Sass loves materials like Sagan loved the universe.Although I am an engineer,took courses in materials;I never heard them talked about like this.
Sass shows how materials have influenced civilizations from the Stone Age to the present time and will continue to do so for the future.Not only that,but there will be materials invented at an astonishing rate,even more so than the last half century.Just imagine the things that have become commonplace in that time and how much their existance is dependent on space age materials.Dreams are the ideas behind inventions;but materials are what makes them happen.
I read a lot of history,and particularly of warfare.I always believed that the one with the best weapon always wins the war.Now,after this excellent book,I have come to believe that the best weapon entails having the best materials to build them with.A great read.