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on 22 January 2015
This book is written in such a way that knowledge of Chemistry is not key for you to be able to read and understand this book. Although, as a student who has studied Chemistry at A-Level, I was able to translate what I have previously studied in class/textbooks to real life scenarios and examples. The voice of the author is reflected in this book - Atkins writes in a style which is far from the standard text book, monotone and factual style which makes it more enjoyable to read as a book/novel.

Atkins explores the history, modern and future of Chemistry which therefore delves into the good (and at times the bad) of the genius discoveries and developments in Chemistry. If anything, it makes you appreciate science even more and anticipate what may be in half a decade or so.
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on 26 August 2014
Atkins acknowledges that chemistry at school is ''largely incomprehensible, fact-rich but understanding-poor'' for most people but then goes about writing a book that is exactly that - A level and GCSE chemistry (without diagrams) condensed into a short book.
I have a background in chemistry so could follow everything, but my wife who hasn't studied science since GCSE found it incomprehensible.

I was disappointed by the examples that were given to illustrate chemistry's importance. In none of them did Atkins bother to connect the principles in the first part of the book so the applications become vague. Also, all of them are industrial cases carried out by professional chemists. Yes, they have had a huge impact on human life but they were all examples where, for non-chemists, they are simply the recipients of the chemistry rather than users of chemistry. If chemistry is everything and you want the average joe to connect with chemistry how about providing examples showing how they are performing chemistry (eg cooking) in their everyday lives?

Underlying all of this is the style that the book is written. It stinks of someone who has spent their life in an ivory tower and is off-putting. If you don't come from a middle-class background you won't enjoy the language that is used to write this book.

So this book comes across as being rather pointless. Experienced chemists don't need this book, they know everything in here. Non-chemists can't follow most of this book - it's too confusing. Current chemistry students don't need the first part of the book - they've just been taught the material in a clearer manner than presented in this book. Who is this book for?
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on 8 December 2013
With science experiencing something of a renaissance on TV at the moment, this short book by Peter Atkins may prove to be enjoyable reading for the winter holiday season. It aims to enlighten the layman about the role that chemistry plays in a modern industrialised society. And it hints at some of the exciting possibilities and challenges that may confront us in the future. Whilst the book should not be looked upon as an aide mémoire for chemistry students approaching examination time (Peter Atkins has other famous texts that serve such purpose), it can appeal to people with various levels of interest in, and knowledge of, the subject. This is because it is not only about what is written, but what is not written. The more knowledgeable the reader, the more the text can incite further thoughts (and discussion). In this respect, the ordering of the book is well thought out. The last two chapters ("Achievements" and "Future") will no doubt prove to be of particular interest to practitioners and potential (future) practitioners alike.
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on 24 February 2014
I fitted the bill for the author's target audience pretty well - one who found chemistry at school '...largely incomprehensible, fact-rich but understanding-poor.', and the author succeeded admirably in giving me the overview I wanted. This brief book organises it all in to a coherent whole, without going in to a great deal of detail, of course. The structure reflected in the Periodic Table and the natures of the various types of chemical bond are explained, and the past, present and future importance of chemistry are reviewed. The author's writing style is lively and elegant, indeed poetic at times.

It's far from a textbook, but it seems to me to be a great foundation on which to build more detailed knowledge.
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on 28 December 2013
As a beginners text book it maybe good to follow, but for those with some basic knowledge its a great way of understanding more complex concepts. Very well written, reads like a story and well thought out.
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on 8 October 2014
perfect
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on 30 September 2013
May not be of interest to anyone who dislikes chemistry, fascinating if you do. Or if you are curious about the world we live in....
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