The Last Sorcerers:

The Last Sorcerers:

The Path from Alchemy to the Periodic Table (2003)

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296 pages | 5.5 x.8.5

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PDF Full Book
296 pages | 5.5 x.8.5

The Last Sorcerers:

The Path from Alchemy to the Periodic Table (2003)

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The views expressed in this book are solely those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Academies.

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Richard Morris

Suggested Citation

The Last Sorcerers: The Path from Alchemy to the Periodic Table. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.

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"...a fascinating read... In every case, Morris writes with a nice blend of science and human interest. ...well-written popular science, and as such deserves to be widely read. That it deals with chemistry's somewhat shady origins adds to its attraction. The fact that it also reveals the human side of some famous chemists adds even more to one's enjoyment."
-- Nature, January 1, 2004

"A relaxed romp through the lives of eminent chemists from alchemy through iatrochemistry, the chemical revolution, Mendeleev, the Bohr atom, and right up to superstrings. ... Morris has many good stories."
-- Chemical Heritage, Winter 2004/5

"The history of the periodic table is rife with rich stories and wacky characters. This book puts fun into the fundamentals of chemistry."
-- Northwest Books column, East Oregonian, November 9, 2003

"[A] lively account of how rigorous experimentation led from mysticism to science..."
-- Nob Hill Gazette, January 2004

"Overall, the book is easy to read even for nonchemists... the story that Morris paints emphasizes an important point: Science has always been global in its efforts and will certainly continue in this manner."
-- Chemical & Engineering News, October 6, 2003

"...Morris manages to make the history of the periodic table's conception fresh and quirky one more time."
-- Publishers Weekly

"In this lively chronology, Morris introduces these scores of others who shaped chemistry."
-- Science News, January 24, 2004

" excellent example of a 'popular chemistry' book... A potpourri of eccentric, foolhardy, strange, and even law-breaking geniuses and near-geniuses populate these pages. ... All in all, a good read for anyone interested in chemistry or the development of human ideas."
-- CHOICE, April 2004

"This book is written to present the history of chemistry (and a bit of physics) as a voyage of discovery. It makes excellent reading."
-- Books-on-Line

"By distilling weird but wondrous human chemistry, Richard Morris has brought forth--like a sorcerer--the enchanting drama of an awesome scientific saga."
-- Dudley Herschbach, winner of Nobel Prize in Chemistry

"As an introduction to the evolution of chemistry, it would be hard to beat Richard Morris's The Last Sorcerers. Erudite and entertaining, I enjoyed every page."
-- Michael White, co-author of Stephen Hawking: A Life in Science

"An intriguing look at the development of the chemical knowledge of atoms and elements which parallels the even more astonishing discoveries of recent years -- by physicists -- of the world within the atom. Interesting, informative and eminently readable."
-- Penny Le Couteur, author of Napoleon's Buttons: How Seventeen Molecules Changed History

"The struggle to understand the material world started with the ancient Greeks, who believed everything consisted of earth, air, fire, and water, and ended 2500 years later with the discovery of the chemical elements, the periodic table, and the structure of atoms. Along the way those shadowy figures, the much misunderstood alchemists of the Middle Ages, struggled with the problem, but with little success. Morris tells all these stories in a well-researched book that is both informative and a delight to read, with lots of amusing and dramatic anecdotes about those who finally brought us to our present state of knowledge."
-- John Emsley, author of The 13th Element: The Sordid Tale of Murder, Fire, and Phosphorus and Molecules at an Exhibition

"It's our journey from magic to molecules. It may explain why people still approach chemists asking, 'Hey, can you blow something up?'"
-- Bill Nye the Science Guy

"An entertaining romp through the maverick lives of great chemists and physicists, from the pioneers of chemistry who transcended their roots in alchemy to the atomic physicists who finally accomplished the alchemists' dream of transmuting matter."
-- Nick Lane, author of Oxygen: The Molecule that Made the World

"An enjoyable and accessible tour through the distant mirror of alchemy, and the discoveries of the chemical elements, atomic, subatomic and quantum theories, emphasizing personalities of the scientists in their historical contexts."
-- Dr. Arthur Greenberg, Dean of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of New Hampshire and author of The Art of Chemistry

"Chemistry students nowadays are taught that the table is derived from the atomic structure of the elements. But lost from this logical approach are the individuals and drama through the ages that generated a disparate collection of knowledge about the natural world and then reduced it into the periodic law to give us the periodic table's present form. In his latest book, The Last Sorcerers: The Path From Alchemy to the Periodic Table, science writer Richard Morris, a physicist by training, elegantly gives us this story."
-- New Books Daily Review, October 8, 2003