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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating look at everyday materials.
on 30 May 1998
Molecules might seem an unlikely topic for a popular work, but the author is one of those rare teachers who can breathe life into the most unpromising subject. This work is a guided tour through some of the most interesting materials on earth - or perhaps this is Emsley's art.
He has organized his subjects thematically in broad areas such as health, transport, and the environment, with eight galleries of a dozen portraits each. The history of each is traced, with information on its structure, origin, and its role in our world. Some substances, such as selenium, prove unexpectedly vital. Others, such as Sarin, the terrorists' nerve gas, began innocuously enough but have been adopted for evil purposes. Still others hold the key to the secret of chocolate, how Teflon sticks to pans, and possibly a clean, renewable fuel for the future. All are interesting.
The alchemy is Emsley's transmutation of chemistry into entertaining instruction.
(The "score" rating is an ineradicable feature of the page. This reviewer does not "score" books.)