Napoleon's Buttons: 17 Molecules that Changed History

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Penguin, 2004 - Science - 375 pages
15 Reviews
Napoleon's Buttons is the fascinating account of seventeen groups of molecules that have greatly influenced the course of history. These molecules provided the impetus for early exploration, and made possible the voyages of discovery that ensued. The molecules resulted in grand feats of engineering and spurred advances in medicine and law; they determined what we now eat, drink, and wear. A change as small as the position of an atom can lead to enormous alterations in the properties of a substance-which, in turn, can result in great historical shifts.

With lively prose and an eye for colorful and unusual details, Le Couteur and Burreson offer a novel way to understand the shaping of civilization and the workings of our contemporary world.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - gdemange - LibraryThing

Extremely good book whether or not you are schooled in chemistry or not. Formulas and equations that accompany the stories are made less complex and easier to understand by circling molecular groups ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - GlennBell - LibraryThing

This is an interesting story that discusses the discovery and impact of chemicals in scientific advancement and changes in lifestyle. This is a unique book in that it discussed the importance of a number of chemicals in the history of mankind. I strongly recommend the book. Read full review

Contents

Introduction
1
PEPPERS NUTMEG AND CLOVES
19
ASCORBIC ACID
36
GLUCOSE
54
CELLULOSE
71
NITRO COMPOUNDS
87
SILK AND NYLON
105
PHENOL
123
WONDER DRUGS
181
THE PILL
201
MOLECULES OF WITCHCRAFT
223
MORPHINE NICOTINE AND CAFFEINE
246
OLEIC ACID
270
SALT
291
CHLOROCARBON COMPOUNDS
309
MOLECULES VERSUS MALARIA
330

ISOPRENE
141
DYES
162
Epilogue
351
Copyright

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About the author (2004)

Jay Burreson, Ph.D., has worked as an industrial chemist and held a National Institutes of Health special fellowship for research on chemical compounds in marine life. He is also the general manager of a high-tech company.

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