I found this less compelling than "The Demon Under the Microscope." The discovery is relatively straightforward which requires a lot of "filler" material to flesh out the book.
The science of nitrogen fixation and it's profound implications for humanity quickly draw in the reader but the plot climaxes too quickly. This creates a prolonged denouement chronicling the remainder of Haber and Bosch's lives. It really feels like three separate books--one about nitrogen fixation and two biographies.
The performance is good and the characters are interesting but the science is a bit light. I believe most readers come to a book like this expecting to learn some interesting technical details. He talks about the process, but never drills down to the chemistry.
I would recommend it to anyone interested in the protagonists' lives or science history, but I would recommend "The Demon Under the Microscope" first.
Among the best, but I have listened to quite a few good ones.
It expanded my understanding of 19th and 20th century history as well as the problem of world food supply.
Adam Verner read well, at a good clip.
This book was so good it made me wish I had majored in chemistry. When my 10 year old grandson is a little older I hope to inspire him with it!
Haber and Bosch were equally impressive.
Same as above.
This book is very interesting. It gives a lot of facts about people's lives, history of BASF company, chemical reactions, World War I tactics. It has a little bit about a lot. I don't know a lot about chemistry, but it's definitely easy to grasp concepts. Definitely a great knowledge to have.
This was a surprisingly excellent and relevant book. It's well narrated, and is of the perfect length and detail to give a good understanding of the scientific and historical significance of what is discussed. I found that it also helped me better understand the modern world and some of our very contemporary issues.
The Alchemy of Air is a fasinating story. From the need to feed the increasing population of the world, to chemical warfare... This is an amazing history that has all the elements of a great story. And best of all, it is a true story told extreemly well. If you have an introductory knowledge of chemistry, the information on nitrogen fixation will be in your grasp of understanding. The history has a frame of reference that is easy to follow through the 20th century. The narration is smooth and relaxed and well suited to the story that it just carries you along from start to finish.
Middlemarch, Middlesex, Middlebrow
You'll experience a strong sense of deja entendu if you've ever listened to "Iron Mike" read the forecast on NOAA VHF weather radio.
"Soul-der" for solder is bad, but wait till you hear him try "Hoechst", and Admiral Spee's name doesn't rhyme with "pee". I could go on.
Great story, though, and the writing is simple enough to absorb in challenging traffic or while making love (just kidding).
Around the turn of the 19th century, scientists began worrying that mass starvation was going to become a global catastrophe because of the growing population in relation to the amount of arable land to grow crops. This conundrum was eventually solved by a pair of German scientists, Fritz Haber and Carl Bosch who went on to become Nobel Prize recipients for their work.
The corporate strategy involved in patenting the technology and competing against natural fertilizers was eye-opening. Of course throw in two World Wars and the story really gets interesting. The story is amazing, the science is not difficult to follow and the narration is great. If you like to read about science, World War II, or just want to know more about what is arguably the most important technological achievement by man, get this book!
The story of Fritz Haber and his relationship with his family Judaism and how that clashed with his science in support of the German war machine.
Eclecticismo, Ritmo, Sprezzatura
A great tale, mixing engineering, history and drama. You really get an insight into the characters' personalities and motivations. Great description of the places and the general feeling of the time within the story. It kept me hooked!
Hager traces the development of nitrogen as an industrial product first from the mines of Chile and Peru in the early 19th century through all the way through the Third Reich and tells the tales of the people involved all the way. The book is lively and worth hearing/reading as a way of improving one's general knowledge of history and the world we live in.
I'm not sure about the subtitle of the book. I think the story deals with many characters over the course of centuries. Although the story comes to a natural conclusion with the demise of the Third Reich, the Saltpeter Wars and WWI are probably more important to the whole book. Alas, maybe it's just that anything claiming to be about Hitler's rise to power is guaranteed to sell more copies.
The reader makes a surprising number of mistakes with people's names (e.g. is it Le, La or Les Rossignole?) and place names (e.g. Auschwitz, not Aus-witch), not to mention with some ordinary words (e.g. "soldering.") He does a good job of reading generally. I liked listening to him. But mispronouncing things that are easy to look up is unfortunate.