SHiPS Resource Center ||   BOOK BRIEF

reviewed 9/94 The Norton History of Chemistry. William H. Brock. W.W. Norton (1993). ISBN 0-393-31043-4. 744 pp. $15.95 paper ($35 cloth). [published in Can., Eng., Aus., and NZ as The Fontana History of Chemistry.]

This new volume has received uniformly favorable reviews. Particular strengths include attention to biographical detail, the social impact of chemical discoveries, and such oft-neglected topics as the development of laboratories and techniques, the supply of apparatus and chemicals, and the problem of purity. A thematic organization (following the history of the chemical bond, for instance) makes it particularly useful for teaching. One reviewer was especially impressed with how Brock has reinspected stories that have, with time, acquired a mythical character and how he has restored to them a fresh reality. Few good comprehensive volumes are available, so teachers may treasure this valuable addition. What an asset that the style is readable as well(!).

--Douglas Allchin

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