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Customer Review

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Useful but ultimately lots of niggles in it, 10 Oct. 2012
This review is from: The Chemical Choir: A History of Alchemy (Hardcover)
This is one of the newer books on alchemy from a scholarly perspective. It is worth having simply because the author has made use of the preceding 30 to 50 years of research since the staples of information were published.(Holmyard, Sherwood Taylor, Multhauf) Any interested reader can use the references to follow up a topic of interest. But beware; the reference system is badly done, listing the references on a per paragraph basis without it being clear which reference is to which bit of information makes it hard to track down what you want to know.

The bibliography at least is comprehensive, and the structure of the book is alright. But it is a derivative work, an attempt at summarising what is known about alchemy, but in doing so it becomes both too dense and too out of touch with the material. There are a number of errors within it as well, and some of the authors own interpretations are of course not necessarily valid.
Moreover, the sources are too often secondary or lesser quality, and this damages the quality of the work.

Having said all that, someone approaching alchemy for the first time may well give it 4 stars; I'm harder to please because I know much more on the topic.
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