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Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements
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Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  183 ratings  ·  17 reviews
A readable and informative entry on each one of the chemical elements, arranged alphabetically from actinium to zirconium. Each entry comprises an explanation of where the element's name comes from and is structured to provide accessible information under various headings: body element (the role it plays in living things); elements of history (how and when it was discovere ...more
Hardcover, 1536 pages
Published April 4th 2002 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published August 16th 2001)
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Sarah Sammis
Nature's Building Blocks: An A-Z Guide to the Elements by John Emsley has a beautiful cover. It's a guide to the periodic table that's laid out like the London A to Z. It sounded like a nifty idea to me so I decided to give the book a try.

I have to say that after working my way through the the letter A entries, I decided that alphabetical just isn't the most logical way to read a casual book about the periodic table. The problem is that the table as it's currently laid out by atomic weight makes
When I read through this, I feel like it's a great companion book to The Disappearing Spoon by Sam Kean.
Both books show the elements in a way that is more readily digestible than any chemistry professor will in a lecture.
Well, more than any I've ever had, anyways.
This book also goes into a history of elements, much like The Disappearing Spoon, which I enjoyed immensely.
If you have a love of chemistry or would just like to understand the make up of the universe you live in a little more, this is
This is my favorite book on the chemical elements. I think it's the most informative such book for the casual reader (obviously CRC Handbooks may have more information but those are massive). This is more of a reference work and not really a narrative, though, so don't get the wrong idea.

I think what I most like is that it explains the historical background/discovery, the industrial applications, and the biological relevance (if any). It's sort of like if you took all the Wikipedia pages for the
This is enjoyable to read because information on each element is narrated in sections: the human element, the food element, medical, war, history, economic... each category describes interesting trivia about the element as it exists in the human body, as it exists in food, medicinal use -both modern and ancient times, war, historical trivia, anecdotal records, etc... if you love knowing about the building blocks of life as I do, this book will be a staple and continual useful reference.
Theodosia of the Fathomless Hall
Meticulous written and therefor astonishingly informative the ceaseless knowledge of the Periodic Table nevertheless becomes a little straining - if rarely. Recommended instantly to anyone with interest in the elements.
Note: The afterword is even better!


In case anyone is wondering, yes, I know I do sound like Kirkus Reviews.
Browsed the A elements, and the B elements. Dry but interesting.
Brad Belschner
Buckets of fun! There's a chapter for each one of the elements, describing its history, its unique properties, its conventional use, and some random tid bits about it. This should be required reading for any chemistry class.
Thomas Müller
Valuable. Some surprising gems, like NIckelTItaniumNAvalOrdinanceLaboratory Nitinol which I now tortured all medical students rotating through our firm with...Genius !
This is a fantastic book detailing the everyday uses and history of each element of the periodic table. Mozart really died from antimony poisoning? Brilliant.
I'm not even going to pretend that I read the whole thing (the library needs it back before 2009). Definitely one to purchase.
Surprisingly readable. Interesting and a good way to explore the economic and historical impact of chemistry.
Great reading for the curious individual who has little time for extending periods of reading.
This book is so interesting that I would marry it. But I just got married so I guess I can't.
Fabulous book that makes the elements come to life.
Fun as hell. Will make you wince with glee.
Trimid Lanns
The book that is always by my bed.
Emsley in his element.
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