The Substance of Civilization by Stephen L. Sass
Materials and Human History from the Stone Age to the Age of Silicon

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 1 Critic Review



The story of human civilization can be read most deeply in the materials we have found or created, used or abused. They have dictated how we build, eat, communicate, wage war, create art, travel, and worship. Some, such as stone, iron, and bronze, lend their names to the ages. Others, such as gold, silver, and diamond, contributed to the rise and fall of great empires. How would history have unfolded without glass, paper, steel, cement, or gunpowder?

The impulse to master the properties of our material world and to invent new substances has remained unchanged from the dawn of time; it has guided and shaped the course of history. Sass shows us how substances and civilizations have evolved together. In antiquity, iron was considered more precious than gold. The celluloid used in movie film had its origins in the search for a substitute for ivory billiard balls. The same clay used in the pottery of antiquity has its uses in today’s computer chips.

Moving from the Stone Age to the Age of Silicon, from the days of prehistoric survival to the cutting edge of nanotechnology, this fascinating and accessible book connects the worlds of minerals and molecules to the sweep of human history, and shows what materials will dominate the century ahead.


About Stephen L. Sass

See more books from this Author
Stephen L. Sass is a professor of materials science and engineering at Cornell University, where he has won a number of teaching awards. He currently lives in Ithaca, New York.
Published February 2, 1998 by Arcade Publishing. 320 pages
Genres: History, Computers & Technology, Professional & Technical, Science & Math, Education & Reference, Nature & Wildlife, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Substance of Civilization

Kirkus Reviews

See more reviews from this publication

Remember when you learned about the Stone Age, followed by Bronze and Iron?

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of The Substance of Civilization...

Reader Rating for The Substance of Civilization

An aggregated and normalized score based on 5 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review