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Tears of the Tree: The Story of Rubber - A Modern Marvel

By: John Loadman(Author)

350 pages, 95 b/w photos, 16 b/w illustrations

Oxford University Press

Hardback | Jul 2005 | #152830 | ISBN: 0198568401
Availability: Usually dispatched within 2-3 weeks Details
NHBS Price: £47.99 $63/€54 approx
Paperback | Apr 2014 | #209624 | ISBN-13: 9780198705000
Availability: Usually dispatched within 5 days Details
NHBS Price: £22.99 $30/€26 approx

About this book

Imagine a world without rubber – neither tyres for motoring or flying, nor bouncing balls for sports, neither seals for washing machines and dishwashers, nor medical gloves, no elastic!

This unique book tells the fascinating story of four thousand years of rubber – from its significance in Mayan religious rituals and culture to its pivotal role in today's world. It is seen through the lives of the adventurers and scientists who promoted it, lusted after it, and eventually tamed it into the ubiquitous and crucial material of our lives today. At the same time, it includes the lives of those who caused the deaths of millions of natives in Africa and South America whilst seeking to satisfy the developing world's lust for this wonderful new material as well as their nemeses.

As with any biography, Tears of the Tree: The Story of Rubber - A Modern Marvel considers old age, why rubber deteriorates and how the ravages of time may be ameliorated. In death, it deals with our current concern for the environment and various options for 'waste disposal'. For the majority of people, rubber is mostly an unknown history and even for those who think they know 'the truth' about rubber, Tears of the Tree: The Story of Rubber - A Modern Marvel may offer many surprises.

"A brilliant, really wonderful and unique book [...] exceptionally interesting to people who know nothing of the technical aspects of the subject."
– Mark M. Green, Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, NY

"During his career as an analytical chemist in the rubber industry, Loadman was often asked by museums and art galleries to help identify and conserve old rubber items. His interest in the history of rubber grew, and gradually encompassed the health, safety, and environmental concerns of natural and synthetic rubbers. Here he offers a history of rubber from its first use in Mesoamerica about 1600 BC to the present. "
SciTech Book News

"The story is told in interesting detail."
– Robert W. Cahn, Nature


1: The Mesoamericans and the 'all-American ball game'
2: Europe goes west
3: What's in a name?
4: The battles of the giants - Charles Goodyear
5: The battles of the giants - Thomas Hancock
6: Rubber goes east
7: The King and the Congo
8: Slaves to rubber
9: Competition!
10: The heavy mob
11: Chemicals and curatives
12: Padding or performance enhancer?
13: The rot sets in
14: Death and destruction
15: Timeline

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John Loadman began his working career as an analytical chemist with the Natural Rubber Producers' Research Association (now Tun Abdul Razak Research Centre or TARRC, Hertford, UK) in 1967, having obtained a Master's degree in Organic Chemistry from the University of Durham. He continued in that area of work through to retirement in 1999, having reached the position of Head of the Materials Characterization Group.

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