The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements - Sam Kean I only gave the book 2 stars. I am not going to finish it. I think the chummy tone annoyed me, a tone reserved for those belonging to a well educated uper class group of people. It seems directed toward the American public rather than a world market. I cannot explain why I feel this way. Perhaps it is the assumption of those things that are so well known and praised in the US. Politics and economics are central to the book. I din't enjoy reading about chemical warfare. This book does an excellent job of showing how chemistry has and will continue to influence all spheres of knowledge - warfare, economics, politics, how the earth was formed. It just wasn't a book for me!

Through page 118: No, it is not really over my head, but there is a tone that I dislike.This book isn't my cup of tea. I am not interested in chemistry enough to enjoy this book!

Through page 114; Help!!! Lisa, I am drowning...... I just finished chapter 6, pages 98-114. I understood absolutely nothing. This is way over my head. Way to scientific for my feeble brain. I am not even going to bother to quote anything. Don't tackle this book unless you are into chemistry! I will take a pause.

Through page 92:The Disappearing Spoon: And Other True Tales of Madness, Love, and the History of the World from the Periodic Table of the Elements IS very good, but don't forget it is about chemistry. It is like you hear everybody praising a crime novel and you think I will like it too, forgetting that crime novels aren't really your favorite genre. Remember this.

I wish I had been taught chemistry how Sam Kean tells the story of the periodic table and all its elements. Maybe then I would not be starting at zero. He explains in a way that ties all the ends together. He puts the elements in the context of world history. He tells you about the bizarre scientists who made headway in the field. He talks about Ytterby, Sweden, and how it has an abundance of the lanthanid elements. Those are the elements that float around loose on the bottom two rows of the periodic table. They hide their electrons deep within their shells. I am Swedish, and I never knew this!!!! Shame on me. Ytterby is near Stockholm. I should have known this. There is no way you can make the elements and their arrangement in the table more intereseting, but still it is chemistry. Since I start out with so little knowledge I do not understand everything, although most is clear.

Here is a taste of the writing style (page 48):

"Bunsen settled back into chemistry at the University of Heidelberg in the 1850s and soon ensured himself scientific immortality by inventing the spectroscope, which uses light to study elements. Each element on the periodic table produces sharp, narrow colored bands of light when heated. Hydrogen, for example, always emits one red, one yellowish green, one baby blue, and one indigo band. If you heat some mystery substance and it emits those specific lines, you can bet it contains hydrogen. This was a powerful breakthrough, the first to peer inside exotic compounds without boiling them down or disintegrating them with acid."

This isn't hard to understand, but other lines I couldn't grasp.

It is fascinating to read about the formation of our solar system 4.6 billion years ago, the possible causes behind the extincion of dinosaurs 65 million years ago and that mass extinctions regularly occur ever 26 million years, but I am far less interested in the history of chemical warfare. Maybe this interesets others. It does fit the subject of the book.

Through page 31: I am reading this because Lisa said it was great. I have begun it NOW, because doesn't have to bread from start to finish, all in one go. I think I can manage to put it aside while I read Two Babushkas with Maude. :0) Boy do I need a refresher in chemistry. This book IS chemistry, but in a clear and fascinating manner. It is also quite amusing! Yup, you heard me correctly - amusing!