It must be tough to write a book on science. Make it too simplistic and it may have wider appeal but the people most likely to buy it will think it stinks. Go gung-ho into the subject and in this case chemists will love it while it cures the insomnia of the general public. Ultimately, this book is a bit of both.I thought the background on elements could have been done better. The author leaves out some of the basics to sail off on tangents that aren't nearly as interesting. For instance with zinc, he never mentions the most common usage as plating for steel but goes on for pages trying to figure out why bars in France were originally called zincs. There was also too much time spent on oddball references, namely the use of certain elements in art and literature.That the author is way into his topic is proved by the line "...we should all have a little piece of spent uranium to keep in the garden as a momento of our reliance upon it for our energy." I'd rather opt for a gnome.And with all the colorful elements on the planet, all the tiny illustrations are in black and white.I liked it in certain respects, but not in others.