The Chemical Age - Frank A. von Hippel

The Chemical Age

By Frank A. von Hippel

  • Release Date: 2020-09-04
  • Genre: Chemistry


This sweeping history reveals how the use of chemicals has saved lives, destroyed species, and radically changed our planet: “Remarkable . . . highly recommended.” —Choice

In The Chemical Age, ecologist Frank A. von Hippel explores humanity’s long and uneasy coexistence with pests, and how the battles to exterminate them have shaped our modern world. He also tells the captivating story of the scientists who waged war on famine and disease with chemistry.

Beginning with the potato blight tragedy of the 1840s, which led scientists on an urgent mission to prevent famine using pesticides, von Hippel traces the history of pesticide use to the 1960s, when Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring revealed that those same chemicals were insidiously damaging our health and driving species toward extinction.

Telling the story in vivid detail, von Hippel showcases the thrills—and complex consequences—of scientific discovery. He describes the creation of chemicals used to kill pests—and people. And, finally, he shows how scientists turned those wartime chemicals on the landscape at a massive scale, prompting the vital environmental movement that continues today.