ACS Book Club

The Silicon Valley ACS Section has a book club where we read and discuss books at the intersection of science, society, politics, history, law, art, etc. The goal is to foster interest in science beyond research and learn more about society’s issues. In addition, we hope the book club encourages people to meet and talk and possibly become more involved in their community.

The leader for our next book is Natalie McClure. She has chosen “The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York” by Deborah Blum. This is a story of the development of Toxicology Forensics in New York City during the Prohibition years. It is an easy read, although occasionally a little gruesome, as it deals in all the causes of murders and deaths that they had to address. The chemistry is mostly accurate but a little lightweight. Some interesting stories of industrial radium poisoning, deliberate arsenic poisoning and a lot of methanol, both deliberate and inadvertent!

The book can be found at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Google Play Books in paperback, hardcover, Kindle, and audio formats. The eBook costs $5.99.

Our meeting date is May 12 at 2PM at the Stanford Gazebo.

We have two more people lined up for the next books. The leaders will choose a book for their event and lead the discussion. If you are interested in this role, let me know.

Send an email to to be added to the email list. Or email me (Ean Warren) at

Past Books:
“Pale Rider: The Spanish Flu of 1918 and How It Changed the World” by Laura Spinney

Other books we have considered:

Author Title
Atul Gawande Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
Carl Djerassi How I Beat Coca-Cola and Other Tales of One-Upmanship
Ed Young I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
Elizabeth Grossman Chasing Molecules: Poisonous Products, Human Health, and the Promise of Green Chemistry
Jack Gilbert Dirt is Good: The Advantage of Germs for your Child’s Developing Immune System
James Gleick Time Travel: A History
Sean Carroll The Big Picture: On the Origins of Life, Meaning, and the Universe Itself
Margareta Sequin The Chemistry of Plants and Insects, Plants, Bugs, and Molecules
Mary Roach Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal
Michael White Acid Tongues and Tranquil Dreamers: Tales of Bitter Rivalry That Fueled the Advancement of Science and Technology
Patrick Coffey Cathedrals of Science: The Personalities and Rivalries That Made Modern Chemistry
Penny Le Couteur Napoleon’s Buttons: How 17 Molecules Changed History
Rebecca Skloot The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Sharon Weinberger The Imagineers of War: The Untold Story of DARPA, the Pentagon Agency That Changed the World
Siddhartha Mukherjee The Gene: An Intimate History
Siddhartha Mukherjee The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer