Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century Hardcover – June 1, 1996


See all 2 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Hardcover
"Please retry"
$41.87 $0.01

Customers Who Viewed This Item Also Viewed

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

China
Engineering & Transportation Books
Discover books for all types of engineers, auto enthusiasts, and much more. Learn more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harperbusiness (June 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887307329
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887307324
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,510,320 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Perhaps Dustin Hoffman should have paid attention to that unsolicited investment advice in "The Graduate." Plastics really are the future. Indeed these smooth oil-based synthetic polymers, available in a spectrum from rainbow-colored through raindrop transparent, are already so ubiquitous in our lives that we barely notice them. Expertly and entertainingly, Stephen Fenichell draws our attention to these shape-shifting substances; he tells us the names (do you know your polypropylene from your butadiene?), and the social history and cultural legacy of a diverse family of materials that has been given a bad rap--or maybe "wrap" is the word.

From Publishers Weekly

This compelling, often surprising saga of the invention of plastic and its transformation of society will rivet your attention, challenge your preconceptions and open up new vistas of science, history and popular culture. Unlike detractors who dismiss plastic as tacky, cheap or environmentally unsound, Fenichell, a freelance writer, celebrates its unsung role in modern life. Polyethylene airborne-radar insulation (which the British had and the Nazis didn't) helped the Allies win the air war over Europe. Computer discs and audio- and videotape make possible the information age, while plastic hearts and limbs prolong and improve human life. Fenichell unreels a resilient tale of scientific discovery, tragedies, rare ingenuity, serendipity. Upstate New York printer John Wesley Hyatt failed in his quest to make the perfect non-ivory billiard ball, but instead, in 1868, created the first thermoplastic, the ideal material for the coming Machine Age. Depressive Harvard chemist Wallace Carothers invented synthetic silk (nylon) in 1934, but committed suicide three years later, obsessed with his failure as a scientist. Tracking vinyl, rayon, Teflon, Bakelite, polyester and so forth, Fenichell carries the story to pop art, Tupperware, environmental artist Christo's outdoor wrappings and new biodegradable plastics used in ecologically fashionable fibers, dissolvable films and recyclable bottles. $20,000 ad/promo.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By bee_pipes on December 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
One would expect a history of plastic to be full of dreary minutia, of interest only to professional chemists. You couldn't be more wrong. The author is to be congratulated for taking a topic that could be dull and turning it into a historical account of how these substances have impacted our lives. Don't get me wrong, I am no lover of plastic but there are applications that require materials with the properties found in modern plastics. You just don't realize how crucial these substances are until you read this book.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Julian Mason on May 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is a scholarly, tongue in cheek, thoroughly enjoyable peon to the most despicable of substances. Histories of science and industry could learn much from Mr. Fenichill's pleasing blend of knowledge and humor. This is one of my favorite books.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 31, 1999
Format: Paperback
Ever wonder about where things come from, how did they discover nylon, rayon, bakelite, tupperware, saran wrap? This book has the answers. Very readable.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By F. R Anscombe on January 2, 2006
Format: Paperback
Fenichell is highly readable. He has appreciation for inventors who have developed new materials for the service of society. His book offers a balanced perspective, with engaging anecdotes.

A mild criticism concerns organization. The book is a sequence of anecdotes about different plastics. Why one is mentioned before another is not clearly explained. As a result, the book feels like journalistic stream of conscious in appreciating materials, their purposes and inventors. This is respectful of the subject, but it is a bit hard to put into overall context and see a big picture.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?