Das Chemie-Buch

Big Ideas – Einfach erklärt

Big Ideas: Das Chemie-Buch (dk, München)

What’s special

„Das Chemie-Buch“ from the Big Ideas series (DK) is the ultimate book on the history of the chemical sciences.


It is a vivid presentation of science.


The achievements of chemical science are presented in small, handy bites on 315 richly illustrated pages with many quotations



The book is structured chronologically on the one hand and thematically on the other. Chronologically, it follows epochs, from early chemistry such as fermentation and the extraction of metals and the development of the first scientific theories, through the long and productive era of alchemy, the scientific and chemical chemical revolution and the atomic age of the 20th century, to today’s changing world.

Thematically, sub-chapters of one to three double-pages in length always deal with one of the achievements of this era. We read about relevant observations, inventions, syntheses, analyses, hypotheses and discoveries. The topics range from technology and the environment to medicine and philosophy.

The rich glossary covers historical and other technical terms from aerosol to cyclotron and there also also a detailed index and a list with the quotation references.


key figures

We get to know the relevant people (“key figures”) and read about their backgrounds, motivations and careers.


All subchapters’ titles are quotations or quotation excerps, just as scientists and scholars from all eras have their say throughout the book.


Figures who have not found their own biographical entry in the chapters, but who are nevertheless an integral part of the history of chemistry, can be found in the appendix with a short portrait.


Chemistry as a science

“Das Chemie-Buch” takes us deep into the history of chemistry. Anyone who is interested in the world around us and loves non-fiction books and documentaries will enjoy it because it says where our current knowledge comes from.


At some points, however, we will also notice how complicated natural science can be. At all times, researchers have tried to understand their object of investigation, making theories around it. These theories are sometimes hard for us to comprehend today, because they origin in different times.


The chemistry book therefore is also a science book about chemistry. Formulas and pictures lead us into the achievements of the characters. Thus we learn chemical names, experimental set-ups, crystal lattices, formula notations, atomic models and reaction equations step by step, chapter by chapter.


Perhaps some readers will therefore also drop out at some points. Perhaps not everyone finds the concept of chiral racemic acids or the idea of bond isomerism worth several pages of book.

However, there is no problem leaving this out. Simply turn the page to learn about narcotics, antibiotics, greenhouse gases or the periodic table of the elements.


One thing is made clear by this book: it was always people who made discoveries and thought of solutions in their time.


The book is the German translation of The Chemistry Book (DK London, 2022).


Andy Brunning, Cathy Cobb, Any Extance, John Farndon, Tim Harris, Charlotte Sleigh (counceler), Robert Snedden. Translation into German: Dr. Roswitha Harrer



Dorling Kindersley Verlag GmbH


Ort & Jahr

Munich, 2023




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