*A BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK*
A FINANCIAL TIMES and NEW STATESMAN Best Summer Book of 2023
Longlisted for the Financial Times and Schroders Business Book of the Year Award
‘A compelling narrative of the human story’ TIM MARSHALL, author of Prisoners of Geography
‘Lively, rich and exciting… full of surprises’ PETER FRANKOPAN, author of The Silk Roads
Sand, salt, iron, copper, oil and lithium. They built our world, and they will transform our future.
These are the six most crucial substances in human history. They took us from the Dark Ages to the present day. They power our computers and phones, build our homes and offices, and create life-saving medicines. But most of us take them completely for granted.
In Material World, Ed Conway travels the globe – from the sweltering depths of the deepest mine in Europe, to spotless silicon chip factories in Taiwan, to the eerie green pools where lithium originates – to uncover a secret world we rarely see. Revealing the true marvel of these substances, he follows the mind-boggling journeys, miraculous processes and little-known companies that turn the raw materials we all need into products of astonishing complexity.
As we wrestle with climate change, energy crises and the threat of new global conflict, Conway shows why these substances matter more than ever before, and how the hidden battle to control them will shape our geopolitical future. This is the story of civilisation – our ambitions and glory, innovations and appetites – from a new perspective: literally from the ground up.
A compelling narrative of the human story -- Tim Marshall, author of PRISONERS OF GEOGRAPHY
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