Pyrite: A Natural History of Fool's Gold

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Oxford University Press, 2015 - Science - 297 pages
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Most people have heard of pyrite, the brassy yellow mineral commonly known as fool's gold. But despite being the most common sulfide on the earth's surface, pyrite's bright crystals have attracted a noteworthy amount of attention from many different cultures, and its nearly identical visual appearance to gold has led to tales of fraud, trickery, and claims of alchemy. Pyrite occupies a unique place in human history: it became an integral part of mining lore in America during the 19th century, and it has a presence in ancient Sumerian texts, Greek philosophy, and medieval poetry, becoming a symbol for anything overvalued. In 'Pyrite', geochemist and author David Rickard blends basic science and historical narrative to describe the many unique ways pyrite makes appearances in our world. He follows pyrite back through the medieval alchemists to the ancient Arab, Chinese, Indian, and Classical worlds, showing why the mineral was central to the development of these various ancient cultures. Pyrite can be tracked to the beginnings of humankind, and Rickard reveals how it contributed to the origins of our art and storytelling and even to our biologic development as humans.

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User Review  - booktsunami - LibraryThing

I found this a slightly frustrating book. One the one hand it is full of interesting information about the role of Pyrite in our world. On the other hand it tends to be repetitive, poorly edited and ... Read full review


1 Fooles Gold
2 Pyrite and the Origins of Civilization
3 What Is Pyrite?
4 Crystals and Atoms
5 Hell and Black Smokers
6 Microbes and Minerals
7 Acid Earth
8 Pyrite and the Global Environment
9 Pyrite and the Origins of Life
10 Full Circle

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About the author (2015)

David Rickard is Emeritus Professor at Cardiff University. His writings have appeared in numerous journals, including Chemical Geology, Geochemica Et Cosmochimica Acta, and Earth and Planetary Science.

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