I heard about this book in one episode of "A Way with Words" podcast. I had read few other essays and books by Oliver Sacks. Some of them were quite enjoying while I failed to enjoy few others. This book was written way before Oliver Sacks became a famous writer. I had fully enjoyed this particular one. The book narrates Dr. Sacks childhood memories with chemistry while parallelly describing the development of modern chemistry since 1600. I found Dr. Sacks to be very fortunate to grow up in an environment where his curiosity was supported and nurtured by his family. The way his parents, siblings, uncles and aunts interacted with him (who was barely a few years old boy) was truly remarkable.
Dr. Sacks did a fine job of portraying how various ideas of chemistry collided and formed the basis of modern chemistry. It seems very odd that 400 years ago, we lacked the concepts of atom and what contributed to various properties of elements. It was very gratifying to see how the concepts of periodic table, structure of atom, physical explanation of chemical reactions were developed.
I found the prose very smooth to read compared to other writings by Oliver Sacks. Anyone who is interested in the history of modern chemistry should give this a try.Published at: 05/23/2022