A Most Damnable Invention

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Penguin Group Australia, Nov 26, 2007 - Technology & Engineering - 288 pages
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The dramatic story of two brilliant but controversial men and their world-changing scientific discoveries.

Humanity's desire to harness the destructive capacity of fire extends back to the dawn of civilization. But the true age of explosives began in the 1860s with Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel's discovery of dynamite, which made possible industrial mega-projects such as the Panama Canal. Dynamite also caused great loss of life and environmental damage. With a troubled conscience, Nobel left his vast estate to the Nobel Prizes.

As the use of explosives and fertilizers soared, nations scrambled for the vital ingredient: nitrates. The 'nitrogen problem' was solved by enigmatic German scientist Fritz Haber. His breakthrough not only prolonged the First World War, but led to the tripling of world population. When he was awarded a Nobel Prize, it sparked international condemnation.

Deftly blending popular science, history and biography, A Most Damnable Invention is a vivid account of the incendiary substance that truly made our world.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Schmerguls - LibraryThing

This 2005 book by a Canadian author is a non-academic history of explosives, gunpowder. dynamite, Nobel, guano, World WAr One, Fritz Haber, and fertilizer. There are no footnotes, and it really is ... Read full review

A most damnable invention: dynamite, nitrates, and the making of the modern world

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

With the expertise of a skilled storyteller, Bown (Scurvy) once again provides an exciting work of popular history, this time all about nitrate, nitroglycerin, and dynamite. His time line goes from ... Read full review

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About the author (2007)

Stephen R. Bown is an award-winning writer with a special interest in the history of science and exploration. His books include the internationally successful Scurvy: How a Surgeon, a Mariner and a Gentleman Solved the Greatest Medical Mystery of the Age of Sail and Sightseers and Scholars: Scientific Travellers in the Golden Age of Natural History. He lives in the Canadian Rockies with his wife and two young children.

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