[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
June 15, 1970

The Chemistry of Life: Eight Lectures on History of Biochemistry

Author Affiliations

American Medical Association Chicago

JAMA. 1970;212(11):1965. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170240167038

This article is only available in the PDF format. Download the PDF to view the article, as well as its associated figures and tables.


The title of this book might sound quite formidable, suggesting bristling formulas and obscure concepts, but the reader need have no fears. The emphasis should rest not on "chemistry" in the narrower technical sense, but on the word "life"—ie, biology. The volume gathers together eight lectures given at Cambridge University, sponsored by the History of Science Department, and delivered between 1958 and 1961. Most of the lecturers were, indeed, biochemists, but they direct themselves not to the chemist but to the wider general audience that has interest in medicine, biology, physiology, or history of science.

In his introduction, Joseph Needham emphasizes that our modern development had a long history and "grew like plants with roots coming up a very long way from the sub-soil of antiquity." He gives us an interesting—and tantalizing—glimpse of some key concepts of western and Chinese science as they pertain to chemistry.

Then follow eight lectures