There are so many popularizations of Atomic Energy on the market now that a new one needs to show something special to hold its own. This one does. The ""something special"" in this case is definite organization and a clear direct style. Complex ideas are attacked one piece at a time, slowly enough for the layman to digest, and yet the narrative manages to move along fluently. The subject matter is pretty standard by now, beginning with early concepts of matter and energy, continuing with the work of the alchemists, the beginnings of modern chemistry and physics, and finally atomic physics with Becquerel and Curie up to Einstein, Bohr, Fermi and others. A good middle-of-the-road book.