t-rex's Reviews > Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History

Napoleon's Buttons by Penny Le Couteur
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's review
Aug 04, 2008

it was amazing
bookshelves: science, 2008
Read in August, 2008

The seventeen molecules:

1. Peppers, Nutmeg, and Cloves
2. Ascorbic Acid
3. Glucose
4. Cellulose
5. Nitro Compounds
6. Silk and Nylon
7. Phenol
8. Isoprene
9. Dyes
10. Wonder Drugs
11. The Pill
12. Molecules of Witchcraft
13. Morphine, Nicotine, and Caffeine
14. Oleic Acid
15. Salt
16. Chlorocarbon Compounds
17. Molecules versus Malaria

Now, I happened to (mostly) enjoy my time spent in the trenches of orgo, so I'm looking forward to reading this book.

Post-reading: this is fantastic. There's often been too much separation between hard science and 'real life', as it were, and this book blends the two beautifully in illustrating chemistry's role in historical happenings. Chemistry is far more than just those reactions and diagrams we learned by rote and weren't applied to much except exams. This book breathes life into these molecules, integrates them into a bigger picture in a way I found extremely pleasing. My only wish is that there were more than seventeen molecules covered.

Also, forget about the buttons. They're an introductory anecdote, and there's so much more to this book than that.
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Noran (new) - added it

Noran Miss Pumkin T-rex, thanks for reminding me about this book! i bought a different book, and i was like--this was not what I wanted!!! I had the wrong title.

message 2: by t-rex (last edited Aug 04, 2008 02:31PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

t-rex Ginnie, I'm all for chemistry being more accessible, even if that means the titles get imbued with a bit of hyperbole. (They're not the ONLY seventeen molecules that changed history, for instance!) I'll have to give this a full and careful review to see if it's up to (scientific) standard.

Glad to be of assistance, Noran.

message 3: by Noran (new) - added it

Noran Miss Pumkin I see these books as different ways of viewing the world/history/timelines. I like them! they make me think.

Noel Forget stupid history . . . some of these molecules are essential for LIFE ITSELF! These might even be 17 molecules that changed the ENTIRE UNIVERSE! (Except for silk: that's just nice to touch.)

Noel The history comment was a joke, much like the rest of the comment.

(This is me being literal for a change.)


message 6: by Noran (new) - added it

Noran Miss Pumkin Okay Noel. I just do not know and your sense of humor. :) I did like the silk line from the every beginning. My hubby did brow beat me for the comment i posted, that was deleted. So, i am sorry--if it felt like i kind a, maybe attacked your post little bit. :) I just felt your stupid thingie was aimed at me--now i know better. All is good and friends now. Have a Goodnight! :)

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