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Original Essays | July 22, 2014

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The three men lit up in my mind's eye, with footnotes. They were converging on me — and on the object I was carrying — in a way that had... Continue »
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The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World But Fueled the Rise of Hitler

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The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World But Fueled the Rise of Hitler Cover

ISBN13: 9780307351791
ISBN10: 0307351793
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Tragic genius, cutting-edge science, and the discovery that changed billions of lives-including your own.

At the dawn of the twentieth century, humanity was facing global disaster: Mass starvation was about to become a reality. A call went out to the worlds scientists to find a solution.

This is the story of the two men who found it: brilliant, self-important Fritz Haber and reclusive, alcoholic Carl Bosch. Together they discovered a way to make bread out of air, built city-sized factories, and saved millions of lives.

But their epochal triumph came at a price we are still paying. The Haber-Bosch process was also used to make the gunpowder and explosives that killed millions during the two world wars. Both men were vilified during their lives; both, disillusioned and disgraced, died tragically.

The Alchemy of Air is the extraordinary, previously untold story of a discovery that changed the way we grow food and the way we make war-and that promises to continue shaping our lives in fundamental and dramatic ways.

About the Author

A veteran science and medical writer, THOMAS HAGER is the author of The Demon Under the Microscope; Force of Nature: The Life of Linus Pauling; and more than a hundred news and feature articles in Readers Digest, Journal of the American Medical Association, and many other publications.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 3 comments:

Barbara Branham, January 1, 2013 (view all comments by Barbara Branham)
A fascinating book about how the population of the world had reached a point where there would be mass starvation in the early 20th C. because farming had reached it's productivity limit. The development of a method to pull fixed nitrogen out of the air and the invention of a machine that could produce fixed nitrogen in enormous quantities allowed the world's population to reach current levels. Now, 100 years later, we face the same problem again: how to increase productivity to feed 6+ billion people.
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Mark Troll, February 27, 2012 (view all comments by Mark Troll)
This book is well-written and fascinating, both for the science and the personal stories. Ironies and significance are well brought out. The author does a great job of bringing out the social and emotional environments of the protagonists, and frames the story well in terms of previous methods for obtaining fertilizer--which included rapid depletion of a rare natural resource.
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(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
bookieBarbara, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by bookieBarbara)
A good lesson on the food crisis of a hundred years ago as well as the development of a simple modern chemical we take for granted today.
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(1 of 2 readers found this comment helpful)
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780307351791
Author:
Hager, Thomas
Publisher:
Three Rivers Press (CA)
Author:
Thomas Hager, Author of The Demon Under the Microscope
Subject:
Historical - General
Subject:
Scientists - General
Subject:
General
Subject:
General science
Subject:
Biography-Historical
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
20090831
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
336
Dimensions:
7.84x5.28x.73 in. .56 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
Biography » Science and Technology
Reference » Science Reference » General
Science and Mathematics » History of Science » General

The Alchemy of Air: A Jewish Genius, a Doomed Tycoon, and the Scientific Discovery That Fed the World But Fueled the Rise of Hitler New Trade Paper
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