The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World but Fueled the Rise of Hitler

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Crown/Archetype, Sep 9, 2008 - Science - 336 pages
A sweeping history of tragic genius, cutting-edge science, and the Haber-Bosch discovery that changed billions of lives—including your own.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, humanity was facing global disaster: Mass starvation was about to become a reality. A call went out to the world’ s scientists to find a solution.

This is the story of the two men who found it: brilliant, self-important Fritz Haber and reclusive, alcoholic Carl Bosch. Together they discovered a way to make bread out of air, built city-sized factories, and saved millions of lives.

But their epochal triumph came at a price we are still paying. The Haber-Bosch process was also used to make the gunpowder and explosives that killed millions during the two world wars. Both men were vilified during their lives; both, disillusioned and disgraced, died tragically.

The Alchemy of Air is the extraordinary, previously untold story of a discovery that changed the way we grow food and the way we make war–and that promises to continue shaping our lives in fundamental and dramatic ways.

 

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THE ALCHEMY OF AIR: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Discovery That Changed the Course of History

User Review  - Kirkus

A fast-paced account of the early-20th-century quest to develop synthetic fertilizer.Today hundreds of factories convert atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia in order to manufacture the artificial ... Read full review

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User Review  - atiara - LibraryThing

The beginning of the book, about the fertilizer industry in South America before Haber-Bosch, was really interesting. Things lag a bit in the middle then pick up again towards the end. Less a science ... Read full review

Contents

THE PHILosophERs STONE 63
14
Source Notes
283
Bibliography
293
Acknowledgments
305
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

A veteran science and medical writer, THOMAS HAGER is the author of The Demon Under the Microscope; Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling; and more than a hundred news and feature articles in Reader’s Digest, Journal of the American Medical Association, and many other publications.

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