Lacer's Reviews > Periodic Tales: The Curious Lives of the Elements

Periodic Tales by Hugh Aldersey-Williams
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it was ok

This book wasn’t really for me, for my taste it tries a bit too much to be a bit of everything and so missing the depth. It looks at the elements of the periodic table, covering each element with a mixture of basic science, science history and the use or mention of the element in art and literature. It felt quite a slog to get through but I kept persisting as occasionally there were gems of information, such as how the Haber from the Haber Process learnt in school was a war criminal, or the author’s interview with the eclectic gentleman who owned the last British fireworks manufacturer (I googled them, the company, responsible for things like the London 2012 fireworks, has since been bought out by another company). I did however find the author’s almost complaints about how difficult it is to get hold of dangerous chemicals these days, a bit much. He also seemed strangely possessive about the elements in the closing paragraphs of the book, it is not ‘our hydrogen’ or whatever, it is just hydrogen. I think in summary, the book is let down by trying to cover too much, I’m not sure how many people would be as equally interested in for example the history of how neon was discovered AND the references to neon in American literature. I think if anything I would have preferred a book looking at say just the halogens or just the earth metals, you could have a chapter or two about earth metals in literature and I’d probably skip that bit! But obviously that’s not that book and I knew what I was getting myself into when I started reading it.
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Reading Progress

June 30, 2018 – Started Reading
June 30, 2018 – Shelved
May 22, 2019 – Finished Reading

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