The Elements of Murder : A History of Poison: A History of Poison

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OUP Oxford, Apr 28, 2005 - Science - 436 pages
19 Reviews
How can a chemical we need on a daily basis to keep us healthy be fatal at a different dose? Why should elements that are intrinsically dangerous be used in medicine? How did poisoners use the chemical properties of chemicals to cover their tracks? Emsley gives detailed histories of five of the most toxic elements - arsenic, antimony, lead, mercury, and thallium, highlighting some of the most famous murders and how the murderers used the chemical properties of elements to hide what they were doing. He shows how the elements have been behind many modern day environmental catastrophes including accidental mass poisonings from lead and arsenic, and the Minamata Bay Disaster in Japan. The array of fascinating stories shows how chemicals have impacted the lives of people ranging from the Greeks and Romans to Newton, Napoleon, Lucrezia Borgia, Mozart, Nelson Mandela, and Saddam Hussein. Emsley also touches on subjects close to home: cot deaths, laxatives, venereal disease, alleged cures for acne, hangovers, and insanity.

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Review: The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison

User Review  - Mary Jane - Goodreads

This is a decent read in small doses, even with long gaps between readings. Read full review

Review: The Elements of Murder: A History of Poison

User Review  - Mary Good - Goodreads

Gave up on it. Too dry for my tastes Read full review

About the author (2005)

John Emsley won the Science Book prize in 1995 for his Consumer's Good Chemical Guide, and followed this with a series of popular science books: Molecules at an Exhibition, Was it Something You Ate? (co-authored with P. Fell), The Shocking History of Phosphorus, and Nature's Building Blocks,all of which have been translated into many other languages. After 20 years as a researcher and lecturer in chemistry at London University, he became a freelance writer, as well as Science Writer in Residence, first at Imperial College London and then at Cambridge University. In 2003 he was awardedthe German Chemical Society's Writer's Award. His latest publication, Vanity, Vitality, and Virility, published in April 2004 (OUP).

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