John Hudson: The History of Chemistry
Hudson's The History of Chemistry promises to explain how chemistry was born and developed. It introduces the reader to a rather large number of notable chemists and explains their antics. It is all good and well, but unfortunately Hudson writes to a chemist, not to a general reader.
I'm sure this book is a good overview of the history of chemistry if you're a chemistry student or a chemist, but a general reader will bump into rather thick chemistry jargon that is not explained enough. My background in chemistry is the bit I learnt in high school and I had to skip rather large portions of the book because I didn't understand them. I was constantly asking "why?", "why is this important?", "what does this mean?" - but Hudson doesn't answer those questions.
So, if you're looking for popular history, you're looking in a wrong place. However, if one's interested in history of science and does have some knowledge of chemistry, this book will explain the general development of chemistry well enough. I'm sure there are better books about the topic, but I don't know them. (Review based on Finnish translation.) [ The History of Chemistry at Amazon.co.uk ] [ The history of chemistry at Amazon.co.uk ] [ The History of Chemistry at LibraryThing ]