Iron is everywhere around us and within us. It is vital to organisms; it colours our blood as well as the earth. We greatly admire people with an iron constitution and a steely determination and almost everything we do involves iron and steel in some form. Yet we hardly seem to realise how reliant on this ancient metal we really are. Without iron there would be no cars, no cargo ships, no railways. Most bridges and buildings would crumble. Agriculture would have stayed small and we would have had no Industrial Revolution. There would be no energy networks, no elevators, no oyster-shucking, no piano music... And paints would not be what they are. Iron has kept its position at the centre of the world's development despite the appearance of many other materials, and itself has developed in a fascinating life that goes hand in hand with the development of humankind.
This book describes the life cycle of iron and man's life with iron and steel, from the beginning of our planet and our earliest use of iron through the growing techniques of ironworking to the miracles of science achieved in (and thanks to) modern metallurgy. It treats the exceptional combination of qualities available to those who master the making of steel and the reasons why through millenia of rust, recycling and reinvention this material continues to reveal enormous potential for today's world and our future. The book is a layperson's exploration of a world of visceral power, astonishing beauty, of cultural heritage and groundbreaking achievements too often taken for granted. We hope young and old will be inspired to delve into this fascinating metal, really a family of hundreds of metals whose innermost properties we are better and better able to understand, and will come to value the challenges steel-related industries face today.
Full colour throughout
220 x 270 mm portrait
Photographs by Pauline van Lynden. Text and images © Pauline van Lynden and Vanessa Everts