Napoleon's Buttons

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The book Napoleon’s buttons was an informative story that mixed slow and confusing chemistry with history. This mix allowed a history buff like me to get involved with the chemical make up and structure of common elements. Penny Le Couteur and Jay Burreson used this book to explain their theories on how key historical events are related to the chemical make up of important elements. In essay after essay they explain the history and events. In addition, they go further in depth to explain the details of particular elements and why they are important. The historical aspects of this book are what grabbed my attention. The long string of facts otherwise would have been too confusing for even the smartest of readers. For example, the first …show more content…
From a historical perspective it was intriguing to discover how dyes affected the hierarchy in the ancient world. The repeated use of dyes represented a transition in humanity from simple hunting and gathering societies; to well developed structured governments and economies where people focused less on survival and more on status. Colors in ancient times represented political, military, and social status. Without the discovery of dyes kings would be clothed just like the normal people giving them a less godly appearance and less power. Even today certain connotations exist with colors like black for evil white for good, etc... The authors include this essay to demonstrate man’s first foray into chemistry by mixing and blending dyes to create more extravagant colors to sell. The lust for colorful clothes drove vendors to create more eccentric dyes, thereby forcing them to utilize experimental chemistry to create new shades and hues. The book here focuses too much on the historical aspects. I can see the relationship but it is weak and describing the chemical make up of colors doesn’t explain why it relates to history. Essay twelve discusses a dark time for chemists. Suddenly, in the mid 1500’s chemists went from being priests and healers to witches and devils. Chemistry during this period is limited and men known as alchemists ran the show. These men used herbs metals and spices to create useful substances and herbal remedies. Helpful as they