A fascinating compendium of the metals, rocks, organic materials, and gems that have had the greatest impact on the development of human civilisation from prehistory to the present day. Using the word 'minerals' in its broadest sense, Fifty Minerals that Changed the Course of History features the metals, alloys, rocks, organic minerals, and gemstones that humans have used as the building blocks of their material cultures. From flint and obsidian to bronze and iron, it explores the roots of industry and trade from the earliest recorded history, and marvels at the extraordinary works of art produced in gold, silver, ivory and jade by the great classical civilisations of the Old and New Worlds. Moving to modern times, it charts the industrialisation of societies through the use of fossil fuels, the production of steel and aluminium and the harnessing of nuclear energy from uranium and plutonium.
Fifty Minerals that Changed the Course of History is a beautifully presented guide to the minerals that have shaped and defined our lives. Weaving together strands of economic, cultural, political and industrial history, each entry gives a fascinating perspective on the scope and pace of human development, and the dangers posed by our exploitation of Earth's resources.
Eric Chaline is a professional journalist and writer specialising in history, philosophy, and religion. A graduate of Cambridge University and The School of African and Oriental Studies, London, he lived in Tokyo for seven years where he was English-language editor for Kodansha Publishers. More recently, he has published titles on philosophy, including The Book of Zen and The Book of Gods, and on history, including Traveler’s Guide to the Ancient World: Ancient Greece, History’s Worst Inventions, History’s Greatest Deceptions, and History’s Worst Predictions. He now lives and works in London, where he is conducting doctoral research in sociology at South Bank University.