Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century

The dustcover for this book promises it to be an anti-chemistry diatribe, but I found the book itself, with the exception of a chapter near the end ("The Seat of the Plague") to be relatively even-handed in its treatment of the subject. It is full of interesting anecdotes about the history of polymers and their overwhelming impact on mankind. Is it possible to imagine the "modern" world without them? Any thoughtful person will concede that the plastics have had both positive and negative effects, and this book describes both. In my reading, the positive impacts far outweigh the negative. "Plastic" is not a chemistry book; Readers of Hal's Picks will probably already know the chemistry. Fenichell specializes in social commentary. "Plastics" provides history, social context, and opinion.

Pick Attribution: 

Stephen Fenichell

Publication Date: 
Wednesday, January 1, 1997