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Synthesis

Books Worth Reading

August 5, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 31

The review of “Toms River: A Story of Science and Salvation,” by Dan Fagin, prompted me to buy the book (C&EN, May 6, page 42). Fagin has done a masterful job of capturing the history of the color industry and the consequent environmental impact.

“Dyes Made in America 1915–1980: The Calco Chemical Company, American Cyanamid, and the Raritan River,” by Anthony S. Travis, also deals with the long history of organic chemical manufacturing.

Both books are worth reading for those who worry about employment prospects for chemists. Fagin’s book reads like a detective story of epidemiology. Travis’ work deftly captures personal traits of managers, chemists, and engineers who were trying to grapple with a world that was changing around them.

I was employed by American Cyanamid’s organic chemicals division for 12 years starting in 1954. My career path was interwoven with the Toms River plant, initially as a supplier and later as an independent consultant and sales agent. I knew many of the people whose names appear in these books.

V. M. DeLisi
Longboat Key, Fla.

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