25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
The elements of elements,
This review is from: The Elements: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) (Paperback)
If you are familiar with this series, you will not be surprised to learn that this book is not a conventional tour of the periodic table. In fact, the table does not make an appearance until half way through. Part of what the author does is to illustrate the impact of Earth's elements on human history. The stories of oxygen and gold are singled out for particular attention. This is not the book you need for a first chemistry course. It is what you need to get you enthused about the subject, to help you appreciate what an exciting and significant discipline it can be.
This fine series is slightly marred by a tendency to typographic error. This book is no exception, and you will struggle to make sense of figure 15(b). Oddly, in the list of figures at the front, there is a request that readers notify the publishers of errors in the list. I don't think I've seen anything quite like that in any book before. It suggests that they realize they have a proofreading problem. Instead of asking readers to be on the alert, wouldn't it be better just to have a word with the printer?
At 179 pages, this is one of the longer entries in the series, and every page glows with the author's enthusiasm for his subject. It adopts a rambling, somewhat unstructured approach but is packed full of fascinating historical and scientific detail. And yes, when the author does finally get around to the periodic table, he gives as good an explanation of it as you will find anywhere.