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The fascinating science and history of the air we breathe
It's invisible. It's ever-present. Without it, you would die in minutes. And it has an epic story to tell.
In Caesar's Last Breath, New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean takes us on a journey through the periodic table, around the globe, and across time to tell the story of the air we breathe, which, it turns out, is also the story of earth and our existence on it.
With every breath, you literally inhale the history of the world. On the ides of March, 44 BC, Julius Caesar died of stab wounds on the Senate floor, but the story of his last breath is still unfolding; in fact, you're probably inhaling some of it now. Of the sextillions of molecules entering or leaving your lungs at this moment, some might well bear traces of Cleopatra's perfumes, German mustard gas, particles exhaled by dinosaurs or emitted by atomic bombs, even remnants of stardust from the universe's creation.
Tracing the origins and ingredients of our atmosphere, Kean reveals how the alchemy of air reshaped our continents, steered human progress, powered revolutions, and continues to influence everything we do. Along the way, we'll swim with radioactive pigs, witness the most important chemical reactions humans have discovered, and join the crowd at the Moulin Rouge for some of the crudest performance art of all time. Lively, witty, and filled with the astounding science of ordinary life, Caesar's Last Breath illuminates the science stories swirling around us every second.
|Title||:||Caesar's Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us|
|Number of Pages||:||384 pages|
July 18, 2017
Final review, first posted on Fantasy Literature (along with my co-reviewer Bill's 5 star review):
So much fun! Caesar’s Last Breath is certainly the most enjoyable, informative and accessible popular science book I’ve read, and is gunning for the title of my favorite non-fiction book ever. Sam Ke...
September 21, 2017
In ninja-like fashion and with deadly and merciless scientific roundhouses, Sam Kean has become one of my favorite non-fiction writers, which means two things: 1) I’m going to gush about his latest offering; and 2) the other writers in that group should be wary (so watch your back, Joseph Ellis;...
August 24, 2017
I want to thank the publisher for providing a copy of this book for me to review, this book is a study of oxygen, what is composed of , what it is it's structure and how the study of it had affected our society, all along the book the author provides historical notes to provide a relief to all th...
August 30, 2017
I received a free copy of Caesar's Last Breath for review, which I confess does make me a little positively biased , BUT Kean's non-fiction piece is really good. I'm not sure how he does it but Kean somehow takes an extremely broad topic: "the air" and structures the book in a way that makes sens...
August 13, 2017
You can capture the entire history of the world in a single breath.
Accessible writing with some dry humor and a bit of snarkiness thrown in from time to time.
Broken down into three basic parts
-the first atmospheres, how our early atmosphere was formed.
-human discoveries of the workings of the at...
July 31, 2017
I won this book in a goodreads drawing.
A wonderful book recounting the science surrounding the air around us, and how many of the gases and their properties were discovered, often by accident. Very entertaining stuff, and very educational at the same time.
September 10, 2017
When I picked up Sam Kean's new book on air, I knew I was going to learn about the molecular structure of air and the permanence of these molecules in the history of our planet. What I didn't expect was a thorough study of everything that can possibly relate to the element. I learned about weathe...
August 23, 2017
Meditation practice often begins with focus on breathing, and in that sense there is no deeper meditation than "Caesar's Last Breath" to inspire mindfulness of the air within you (and around you). With this treatise on gasses, Sam Kean has solidified himself as one of my favorite authors. He shar...
September 17, 2017
Received to review via Netgalley; publication date 18th July
Sam Kean is an entertaining pop science writer in general, and though this isn’t as perfectly up my street as The Tale of the Duelling Neurosurgeons, it’s still fascinating and very readable. It starts by reminding us that we’re breathin...
October 03, 2017
Good, but I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as I have his previous books. Maybe those other topics – the elements, genetics, the human brain – are just more interesting to me than “gases.” “Air” is just such an … amorphous topic, and the organization here felt very random. As always, Kean tells th...