The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another (The MIT Press)

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There are several books on how humans changed their world through innovation. The reverse – how human innovations in turn shaped human society – is not as much written about. It is this aspect that this work explicitly sets out to explore by focusing on eight mundane objects.

Chapters read more like stories, with a focus on the lesser-known personalities. Edison, for example, does get a mention, but most of the narrative is devoted to William Wallace. After describing the birth of the invention, the chapter outlines its adaption and impact on society. The focus is on how human society changed partially due to innovation. In some cases, this connection is strong (as in the case of Polaroid), but in other cases, it is more tenuous.

The text is not footnoted, instead, an appendix lists page numbers and bold text from that page followed by the reference. This is annoying as looking for references takes more effort, and some areas are not footnoted. An annotated bibliography not only lists but also provides a brief description of references that may interest some readers. This book is likely to appeal to those interested in the intersection of technology and culture.


Reviewed By:

Author Ainissa Ramirez
Star Count 4.5/5
Format Hard
Page Count 328 pages
Publisher The MIT Press
Publish Date 2020-04-07
ISBN 9780262043809
Amazon Buy this Book
Issue May 2020
Category Science & Nature
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