Wednesday, April 1, 2020

The Alchemy of Us - A Review

The Alchemy of Us

Ainissa Ramirez

Ainissa Ramirez has written a fascinating book. Each chapter begins by looking at the need for a well-known invention, then at the steps leading to its creation, and finally, at the repercussions (both good and bad) the invention has had on 21st-century culture. It is a wonderful blending of history, science, and culture.

The book is very readable - written for a high school senior or the college-educated public. Anecdotes leading to the invention are interesting as they portray events less familiar than the invention itself. Details surrounding the invention expand on the facts most of us grew up learning. The author weaves stories of science, medicine, art, music, and literature, into the narrative as she explores the repercussions of each individual invention. A fun read.

My biggest concern is the style chosen by the author and publisher to present citations (at least as used in the ARC I was provided and as displayed on-line by Amazon). There are no footnotes or citations in the body of the text. An addendum to the book includes an extensive list of references. They are tied to the main text by quoting a four or five-word phrase just prior to each reference. These are not grouped by pages or by chapters - meaning that if the reader is looking for more information on a topic mention in the text, one will need to locate a quote from the passage that is also included in the list of references. It is all very inconvenient. This may be a valid way to create a list of citations, I found it confusing. Using Google was easier to trace references than using the addendum. It is this “flaw” that leads to a four-star review. NOTE: I do not have a copy of the published text. It may be that a better citation style was used in the final book.

Read the book - be prepared to consult Google to satisfy the curiosity it will generate.
This review is based on a free electronic copy provided by the publisher for the purpose of creating this review. The opinions expressed are my own.

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