In This Review

Substance of Civilization: Materials and Human History From the Stone Age to the Age of Silicon
Substance of Civilization: Materials and Human History From the Stone Age to the Age of Silicon
By Stephen L. Sass
Arcade Publishing, 1998, 291 pp.

From a professor of materials science at Cornell comes this easy read, which covers everything from stone, bronze, and glass to diamonds, composites, and silicon. Read this book to discover what made Roman cement superior to all that followed for nearly a millennium, or how aluminum became commercially available because of a process invented in the 1880s. Necessarily superficial, it nonetheless serves as a useful introduction for those interested in how the materials humans use to build the world around them shape their lives.