Steven Krivit is a very capable science journalist. This is a terrific journey through colorful old science, held in disrepute for the last century or so. In other works, Krivit can be overly harsh in his criticism of scientists, but this work is entirely good-natured.
When it wasn't forbidden to search for elemental transmutations with the tools of chemistry, people found them. But then as now people come in many flavors. Serious scientists. People who need funding. People who want to make lead in to gold. People who have a commercial product "almost ready" to do so. And investors and research bureacrats, then as now, have to try to sort it all out, or in frustration throw the baby out with the bathwater. At some point it was decided that physicists do transmutations, and chemists don't. These stories predate that point. A particularly colorful period. it is of special interest today because a few of the outrageous claims of transmutation are now commonplace in the laboratories of LENR researchers-- which provokes several questions: Who got there first? What else did they find out? What other simple and safe demonstrations of LENR exist to help elucidate its physical mechanism? As scientists we are obliged to listen to Nature and allow her to overrule our ideology, no matter how well established the current models of physics may seem. Krivit's explorations are terrific evidence based roadmaps of the physics that is coming when the consensus that LENR can't happen is replaced by the expansion of physics to encompass another chunk of reality.