by Ed Conway
Sand, salt, iron, copper, oil, and lithium. These fundamental materials have created empires, razed civilisations, and fed our ingenuity and greed for thousands of years. Without them, our modern world would not exist, and the battle to control them will determine our future.
In fact, we dug more stuff out of the earth in 2017 than in all of human history before 1950. For every ton of fossil fuels, we extract six tons of other materials, from sand to stone to wood to metal. And in Material World, Conway embarks on an epic journey across continents, cultures, and epochs to reveal the underpinnings of modern life on Earth—traveling from the sweltering depths of the deepest mine in Europe to spotless silicon chip factories in Taiwan to the eerie green pools where lithium originates.
Material World is a celebration of the humans and the human networks, the miraculous processes and the little-known companies, that combine to turn raw materials into things of wonder. This is the story of human civilisation from an entirely new perspective: the ground up.