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Noble Obsession: The Race to Unlock the Greatest Industrial Secret of the 19th Century | [Charles Slack]

Noble Obsession: The Race to Unlock the Greatest Industrial Secret of the 19th Century

Like crude oil, cotton, and plutonium, rubber is on the short list of raw materials that suddenly yielded transformative commercial benefits. The turning point was the 1839 discovery of vulcanization, whereby the heated addition of sulfur permits rubber to retain its shape regardless of temperature. Without sulfur, rubber melts or cracks when exposed to heat or cold. Charles Goodyear was the implacable, obsessed true believer who made possible "the great shock absorber of the industrial age".
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Publisher's Summary

Like crude oil, cotton, and plutonium, rubber is on the short list of raw materials that suddenly yielded transformative commercial benefits. The turning point was the 1839 discovery of vulcanization, whereby the heated addition of sulfur permits rubber to retain its shape regardless of temperature. Without sulfur, rubber melts or cracks when exposed to heat or cold. Charles Goodyear was the implacable, obsessed true believer who made possible "the great shock absorber of the industrial age". Countless setbacks, massive debt, and perpetual destitution were unable to dent Goodyear's faith in rubber by all accounts; his wife, Clarissa, was blessed with an otherworldly patience. This is a fascinating portrait of the transitional period in America's progress from farmland to factory and, eventually, to freeway.

©2003 Charles Slack; (P)2003 Books on Tape, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"A fresh, frisky, and funny bio cum industrial history; brisk, bouncy, elastic, and exciting." (Kirkus Reviews)

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  •  
    William Avondale, PA, USA 05-03-09
    William Avondale, PA, USA 05-03-09 Member Since 2003
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    "A good, but not great, invention story"

    History of Charles Goodyear's invention of vulcanized rubber, including his rivalry with Thomas Hancock of the McIntosh company in England. Hancock reverse engineered the invention after receiving samples of Goodyear's rubber and was the first to file for a patent on the invention in England, thereby depriving Goodyear of the profits from the invention in England and Europe. A little drawn out and mellow dramatic with respect to Goodyear's many visits to debtors' prison, his long suffering wife, etc. One comes away with the impression that Goodyear was a plodder rather than a genius, although I don't think that is necessarily the author's view, and a terrible business man. Little or no meaningful description of the science of the invention. The highlight of the book for me (I am a trial lawyer) was the description the patent trial against Horace Day, in which Goodyear was represented by Daniel Webster, and Day was represented by Rufus Choate.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer 06-20-14

    ZEN. LDS. GTD. FTW.

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    "Best audiobook of the year"

    Listening to this audiobook became a "noble obsession". Slack's writing style and Gardner's narration was a perfect match for the era that this epic real-life story took place in.

    I borrowed the hardcover version from the public library to re-read certain passages. Noble Obsession is that good.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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