Material World (Hardback)
  • Material World (Hardback)
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Material World (Hardback)

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£22.00
Hardback 512 Pages
Published: 15/06/2023
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Waterstones Says

Through six transformative substances, Conway traces the history of humanity and also its potential future in this dazzling study.

Shortlisted for the Financial Times Book of the Year 2023

Sand, salt, iron, copper, oil and lithium. They built our world, and they will transform our future.

These are the six most crucial substances in human history. They took us from the Dark Ages to the present day. They power our computers and phones, build our homes and offices, and create life-saving medicines. But most of us take them completely for granted.

In Material World, Ed Conway travels the globe - from the sweltering depths of the deepest mine in Europe, to spotless silicon chip factories in Taiwan, to the eerie green pools where lithium originates - to uncover a secret world we rarely see. Revealing the true marvel of these substances, he follows the mind-boggling journeys, miraculous processes and little-known companies that turn the raw materials we all need into products of astonishing complexity.

As we wrestle with climate change, energy crises and the threat of new global conflict, Conway shows why these substances matter more than ever before, and how the hidden battle to control them will shape our geopolitical future. This is the story of civilisation - our ambitions and glory, innovations and appetites - from a new perspective: literally from the ground up.

Publisher: Ebury Publishing
ISBN: 9780753559154
Number of pages: 512
Weight: 760 g
Dimensions: 240 x 162 x 44 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

An eye-opening celebration of human ingenuity - Andrew Hill, Financial Times, Best Books of 2023 - Business

Lively, rich and exciting ... full of surprises. Underlines that to understand global geopolitics, you need to understand natural resources and geology - Peter Frankopan, author of THE SILK ROADS

Fascinating . . . A revelation - The Times, Best Science and Environment Books of 2023

A compelling narrative of the human story - Tim Marshall, author of PRISONERS OF GEOGRAPHY

Brilliant - Martin Wolf, Financial Times - Best Summer Books of 2023: Economics

Fascinating, fun, and vitally important. A wonderful exploration of the world we've built yet somehow manage to ignore - Tim Harford, bestselling author of HOW TO MAKE THE WORLD ADD UP

Revealing and empowering - New Statesman, Best Summer Books of 2023

Expansive, erudite, and edifying. A stunning insight into the materials that shaped our history and built the modern world - Prof. Lewis Dartnell, author of 'BEING HUMAN: How our Biology shaped World History'

[An] enlightening account... he throws new light on how the world works... Not a sentence jars in Material World - The Times

A vivid guide to the “material world” on which we all, often unconsciously, rely – and essential background reading to understand securonomics - Rachel Reeves, New Statesman, Books of the Year 2023

'[Conway's] book deconstructs the modern world for us to see inside ... As we fret and argue about how to tackle climate change, economic development and geopolitical tensions, this book is a timely reminder of our reliance on physical stuff, and offers a challenging, practical perspective on these debates ... Enlightening - Bloomberg

Goes straight on the 'must-read' list ... Conway is one of the most adroit commentators on economics and business of our time - City AM

A stunning book that will transform the way you think about economics and life. Brilliantly written - Matthew Syed, author of REBEL IDEAS

[A] masterful exploration of the materials that underpin civilisation . . . The biography of an element or material is now a familiar format . . . but what distinguishes Material World is his access . . . This is not a remote, academic analysis: he has been to the salt mines beneath the North Sea, the mineral railway of the Atacama Desert, the Chilean town being swallowed by the world's demand for copper - Will Dunn, New Statesman

Endlessly fascinating - Adrian Chiles

Conway's gripping explanation of a world you didn't know needed explaining deserves this highest of accolades: Material World, once read, leaves us baffled that nobody ever thought of writing it before - Matthew Parris

In Material World, Ed Conway uncovers the hidden history of the materials that structure our world. Full of colourful characters and fascinating connections, Material World shows how the seemingly simplest materials - from sand to salt to iron - require unbelievably complex refining and processing before arriving at their final form. Absorbing storytelling... Fascinating and insightful - Chris Miller, author of CHIP WAR

One of the most interesting books I have read in a really, really long time. It's absolutely brilliant [...] buy it, right now - Merryn Somerset Webb, Merryn Talks Money

Ed Conway is a great thinker... Material World is an engrossing study of the basic substances on which we all depend. Anyone who cares about the resources which built our world and where mankind is heading must read this vital book - Adam Boulton, Times Radio

A masterful exploration of how materials shape our world more than ever - economically, geopolitically and environmentally - Diane Coyle CBE, Bennett Professor of Public Policy at the University of Cambridge

A highly engaging and important look at the key materials powering our modern world, and how we feed our insatiable appetite for them - Professor Kenneth Rogoff, Professor of Economics at Harvard University and ex-Chief Economist of the IMF

Fascinating and forensic in equal measure... reveals the web of mining and manufacturing that underpins the lives of everyone on the planet - Mark Miodownik, author of STUFF MATTERS and UCL Professor of Materials & Society

Lucid... fascinating - Financial Times

Lively and impeccably written - a welcome addition to the way-the-world-works literature - Kirkus - starred review

Compelling - and alarming - New Yorker

Rich in revelations . . . [Conway’s] analogies bring the scientific processes to life . . . Offers a fascinating lens on the intricacies of the modern supply chain, the underappreciated science behind everyday objects, and the ways that subtle - and not so subtle - changes in governmental policies shift the role of these materials in the global economy - Bronwen Everill, Foreign Policy

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Hardback

“Material World is essential reading for understanding the solution to theclimate crisis”

Highlights the amount of effort necessary to decarbonise our economy. Cannot just stop oil without huge efforts.
Mining companies are often pilloried by environmentalists but we cannot make the energy transition... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 6

“So much new to learn here”

Just finished this hugely insightful book, which highlights so many unexpected dependencies within the complex system on which modern life is founded. Remarkable that it keeps on working as it does.

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 0

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