Books of Interest to the Caveman Chemist

Each time you order one of the books from these links, they give me a little bit of a kickback. Many of the references to Caveman Chemistry are similarly hyperlinked. So if you see something you like, you can order it here and support the Caveman Chemistry website.

Caveman Chemistry

Kevin Dunn. Caveman Chemistry Order from the Publisher.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

If I hadn't written this book I would definitely buy a copy. Whatever hype I give it is bound to be suspect, so listen to what other people have said:

Antoine Lavoisier: I have long thought that a work of this kind was much wanted, and I am convinced that it will not be without use.

Sir William Crookes: We cannot let this work pass out of our hands without expressing the hope that, at no distant date, Chairs of Technology will be founded in all our Universities, and that the subject will be included in the curriculum of every large school.

Lewis Carroll: The reading of this book is a very small part of the business; the real occupation and the real enjoyment come when the reader has gained the power of solving for himself the fascinating problems of the Science.

OK, so they weren't neccessarily talking about my book. But what do you care what other people think? The entire book is available for browsing. Take a look and make up your own mind.


DocBook

DocBook is variant of XML designed for producing technical documentation. Caveman Chemistry was composed in DocBook and converted to HTML for this website and to PDF for ebook and print versions of the book. The website, itself, is maintained in DocBook using open-source tools. The learning curve for DocBook is fairly steep, but if you are interested in semantic markup of technical documentation and the production of online and print media from a single source document, then you just might be interested in DocBook. Even if you are just interested in throwing around terms like “semantic markup” you might investigate DocBook for purely geekological reasons.

Norman Walsh. DocBook: The Definitive Guide.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

If you are at all interested in DocBook you cannot do without this book. Norm Walsh literally wrote to book on DocBook and this is the book he wrote. This is not an idiot's guide to DocBook—it's the definitive guide. This book, itself, was written in DocBook and includes a CD-ROM containing the source for the entire book. It documents all of the elements of DocBook with lots of examples. That said, if you don't already use DocBook you probably won't learn to from this book. For that, you will definitely want to explore The DocBook Open Repository and join one of the several mailing lists dedicated to helping people learn the ropes. Once you have your tools up and running you will definitely want a copy of this book for reference.


Bob Stayton. DocBook XSL: The Complete Guide.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

Bob Stayton is one of the movers and shakers of the DocBook-Apps mailing list. This is his guide to assembling a working set of tools for writing and processing DocBook documents. It complements Walsh's book nicely, focusing on tools, stylesheets, and customization. If you are authoring DocBook documents, you need The Definitive Guide; if you are producing media from DocBook, you need The Complete Guide.


Joe Brockmeier. Kara Pritchard. DocBook Publishing.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

I wish I had known about this book when I started using DocBook. It is not quite an “idiot's guide,” but it is written at a more introductory level than the books described above. It would serve as a good introduction for someone new to DocBook. That said, the toolchains for rendering DocBook documents into print have evolved significantly since this book was published in 2001. While both SGML and XML versions of DocBook are discussed, the chapter on the DSSSL toolchain is a bit out of date and the XSLT tools have all come along since the publication of this book. The less-than-current toolchain discussion is mollified somewhat by the fact that most Linux distributions now include functional toolchains. It comes with a CD-ROM containing several examples, DSSSL and XSL stylesheets, openjade (the DSSSL formatting tool), and templates for several common types of documents. All things considered, this book remains a decent introduction to DocBook, particularly for authors. If you need to render your documents into HTML, postscript, or PDF, however, you will want to make sure that you have access to current tools. If you are a Linux user, issue the command “which openjade” to determine whether openjade has been installed.


Electrostatics

A. D. Moore. Electrostatics: Exploring, Controlling, and Using Static Electricity.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

A. D. Moore invented a very robust electrostatic generator dubbed the “Dirod.” This book is the definitive Dirod manual. It is written in a clear and readable style suitable for pre-teens through adults. If you are interested in Dirods, you need this book.


R. A. Ford. Homemade Lightning: Creative Experiments in Electricity.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

R. A. Ford wrote this book on static electricity in general, but its real strength is the detailed instructions it gives for the construction of the sectorless Wimshurst machine. Out of print, but available on the used market.


General Chemistry

David Oxtoby. Pat Gillis. Norman Nachtrieb. Principles of Modern Chemistry.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

This is the book we use for General Chemistry at Hampden-Sydney. I like it because in addition to the development of the general principles of thermodynamics, equilibrium, and quantum mechanics, it spends a good deal of space discussing geology and industrial processes. It was an early and pervasive influence on Caveman Chemistry.


History of Chemistry and Technology

Hugh Salzberg. From Caveman to Chemist.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

My course took its name from this book, which served as the original textbook. As the course moved towards hands-on projects, however, Salzberg's book took on less relevance. Because of their similar titles, there may be some confusion on the relationship of this book to my own. From Caveman to Chemist focuses on the history of chemical philosophy and has no laboratory component. Caveman Chemistry examines the history of chemical technology through integrated laboratory projects. I highly recommend From Caveman to Chemist as a history of the ideas which have shaped our modern understanding of chemistry. Sadly, it is currenlty out of print but used copies may be had.


Joseph Lambert. Traces of the Past.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

This book examines the insights which chemistry brings to archeology. It is particularly strong in showing how trace elemental analysis can be used to determine trade routes and relationships among early technological traditions.


Elizabeth Wayland Barber. Women's Work: The First 20,000 Years.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

This book traces the early textile industry from its stone-age origins. The textile component of my course was shaped largely by this book.


Soapmaking

In a world increasingly paranoid about all things chemical there remains a hardy group of people who are unafraid of such a poisonous, caustic, skin-eating chemical as sodium hydroxide. I speak, of course, of soapmakers. Here are some of my favorite books on handcrafting soap.

Ann Bramson. Soap: Making It, Enjoying It.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

This little book was my introduction to soapmaking and, though it is somewhat dated, it would still serve as a basic guide for the beginner. True, it contains only four recipes. It doesn't go into detail about the properties of every conceivable oil, scent, or color. But it covers all the basics and, unlike many later and larger tomes, it tells you how to render your own tallow. If you don't need fifty some-odd recipes just to get started, this inexpensive book will serve you well.


Catherine Failor. Making Transparent Soap.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

Melt-and-pour soap has become very popular in recent years, particularly the variety of "glycerine" soap which is either transparent or translucent. While beautiful and fun, you aren't really making soap when you use melt-and-pour soap—the stuff you are buying is already soap. How do you make transparent and translucent soap from scratch? That is the subject of this nice little book by soap veteran Catherine Failor. Essentially, you dissolve soap in alcohol to make it transparent. This 133-page book gives you the skinny on the process, detailing the ingredients and processes and providing seven recipes for different varieties of transparent and translucent soap. If you want to make transparent soap, this is definitely the book for you.


Susan Cavitch. The Soapmaker's Companion.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

If I were to have only one book on soapmaking this would probably be it. Part I is divided into Recipes, Ingredients, and Know-How: lots of recipes, detailed properties of a wide variety of oils and additives, and tips for diagnosing problems. Part II is essentially the chemistry of soap and soapmaking materials. There is a danger that when a non-chemist learns a little chemistry, she will garble it when she tries to explain it to another non-chemist. Cavitch, however, has done a remarkable job of correctly explaining what she understands about chemistry and noting those areas where her understanding is incomplete. Part III discusses the ins and outs of making money from making soap. If you make soap, you will not be dissapointed with this book.


Robert McDaniel. Essentially Soap.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

This is a terrific book by a chemist who spent a large part of his career in the commercial soap industry. It is packed with lots of color illustrations and twenty-some-odd recipes. It has a large section on fragrances and another on alternative oils. But the best part of the book for me was “Six Soapmaking Secrets,” particularly the discussion of INS. Written by a chemist, the chemistry is correctly explained in a little more detail than in most soap books, but it is written in a style which will be accessible to most soapmakers.


Maria Nerius. Soapmaking for Fun and Profit.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.

So you want to make money from soap. Part One of this book could have been a book in its own right, on a par with other soapmaking books. But if you buy this book rather than some other book, it is probably for Part Two, which discusses soapmaking as a business. It has chapters on pricing, selling, and marketing. Another chapter discusses basic business principles, including taxes and insurance. If you want to make money from your craft, get this book.


Bestsellers

These titles are among the best selling among Caveman Chemists.

Backyard Ballistics.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.


Iron John: A Book About Men.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.


Modern Tesla Coil Design Theory.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.


The Lost Journals of Nikola Tesla : Haarp - Chemtrails and Secret of Alternative 4.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.


Vacuum Bazookas, Electric Rainbow Jelly, and 27 Other Saturday Science Projects..

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.


The Lightning Discharge.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.


The Tesla Papers: Nikola Tesla on Free Energy and Wireless Transmission of Power.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.


The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla (The Lost Science Series).

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.


All About Lightning.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.


Tesla - Master of Lightning.

Available from from Amazon or Powells or Barnes and Noble.