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The Chemical Choir: A History of Alchemy

3.26  ·  Rating details ·  23 ratings  ·  2 reviews
A pre-cursor to contemporary chemistry and physics, alchemy began as the pursuit of knowledge, initially in China as a search for the secret of immortality, and appearing independently in Egypt as an attempt to produce gold through the arts of smelting and alloying metals. In The Chemical Choir, P.G. Maxwell-Stewart authoritatively traces the fascinating history of alchemy ...more
Hardcover, 216 pages
Published July 15th 2008 by Continuum (first published January 1st 2008)
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NinjaMuse
In brief: This is a reasonably academic history of the beliefs which have formed around alchemy throughout history.

Thoughts: This was an interesting and informative read, though I did find myself wading through academic sentences and rereading paragraphs a fair bit (mostly because the pseudoscientific jargon and methodology is traditionally and deliberately hard to follow). Maxwell-Stuart is very thorough, covering Asian, Islamic, and Western alchemies and citing everything from alchemic manuals
...more
Sienna
Oct 28, 2009 added it
Recommends it for: friends who've expressed an interest in my thesis topic
Recommended to Sienna by: Glyn
Shelves: 2009, thesis
As the cover art indicates, this work is intended for a popular audience. But it's backed up by decent scholarship, and covers a lot of ground in spite of its length. A good survey for anyone wanting to learn more about chemistry's predecessor. Points also to Maxwell-Stuart for making an effort to include women among his subjects. My copy is a paperback ARC that I picked up secondhand — no index, alas! ...more
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Peter G. Maxwell-Stuart is a Research Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Aberdeen and an Honorary Lecturer in the Department of History in the University of St. Andrews.

Source: Macmillan

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