The Story of Alchemy and the Beginnings of Chemistry – A concise history of Alchemy and its transition to chemistry written from the point of view of a scientist at the turn of the 20th century. It gets a bit condescending, but at the time the book was written chemists and physicists had a lot going for them, so its somewhat understandable. The original book was written just 4 years after the discovery of the electron, and the 1913 revisions were made just before the Bohr Model of the atom was theorized. Very cool read and a must for any chemist, physicist, and materials engineer!
For thousands of years before men had any accurate and exact knowledge of the changes of material things, they had thought about these changes, regarded them as revelations of spiritual truths, built on them theories of things in heaven and earth (and a good many things in neither), and used them in manufactures, arts, and handicrafts, especially in one very curious manufacture wherein not the thousandth fragment of a grain of the finished article was ever produced.
the bii is really nice reading