Reading progress update: I've read 179 out of 377 pages.

Napoleon's Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History - Jay Burreson, Penny Le Couteur

Dye molecules changed history. Sought after from their natural sources for thousands of years, they created some of humankind’s first industries. As the demand for color grew, so did guilds and factories, towns and trade. But the appearance of synthetic dyes transformed the world. Traditional means of obtaining natural dyes vanished. In their place, less than a century after Perkin first synthesized mauve, giant chemical conglomerates dominated not only the dye market but also a burgeoning organic chemistry industry. This in turn provided the financial capital and the chemical knowledge for today’s huge production of antibiotics, analgesics, and other pharmaceutical compounds.

Ok, I'd still prefer better referencing and little more detail, but the overall concept of the book is fascinating. Not all of the content is new, but I loved the description of why Perkins' original experiments to synthesise quinine failed. It's a simple explanation but I haven;t read any other books that would have even mentioned it.

 

Next up: More Drugs! Pharmaceuticals this time.