Napoleon’s Buttons by Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson

Subtitle: How 17 Molecules Changed History

Published: 2003

Genre: nonfiction, science

Length: 354 pages of text, 375 pages total

Interest: I was talking to a friend about how much I enjoyed The Disappearing Spoon, and he recommended this book as another I would enjoy.

Summary: The subtitle to the book sums up the purpose of the book succinctly. The authors chose 17 classes of molecules they felt had a big impact on the development of the world. In the beginning, the molecules were important because they drove exploration to find more natural sources. Eventually, chemistry developed to the point that we could synthesize the molecules we wanted, or at least came up with something interesting while trying to create a synthetic molecule. Some of the molecules were beneficial, some were harmful, but all changed history.

Final thoughts: My friend was right about this book. I found this book fascinating, particularly the combination of science and history. I know Mr. Curiosity would love the book as well. When we do explorers in homeschooling (one of these days), I think I’ll use the first few chapters for him. Not only were major historical events covered in the book, but lots of Nobel Prize winners kept coming up. Every once in a while, it felt repetitive. The author’s would repeat an anecdote found in a previous chapter, almost as if they didn’t expect you to be reading the whole thing straight through. I certainly read it straight through.

Title comes from: One of the anecdotes the authors kept coming back to was how Napoleon’s army was defeated in Russia. One of the possible underlying possible reasons was the cold causing deterioration of the tin-based buttons in the army.

Reading challenges fulfilled: 4/100 in my Finally to 100 Challenge, and an N in my Title Alphabet Challenge

If you’re interested in purchasing the book, you can click on the cover image or subtitle to follow an Amazon affiliate link to the book and thanks for supporting my blog!


1 Comment

Filed under Book review

One response to “Napoleon’s Buttons by Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson

  1. Pingback: Weekly Wrap-Up: Explorers | Fill Your Bookshelf

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