The author outlines the historic origins of chemistry from antiquity to the Renaissance in a lucid and fully documented history in which an interesting case is made for the impetus given the development of chemistry from the practice of medicine. This, in opposition to the usually accepted view that its origins lay in the science of alchemy. The text is at once readable and thorough, compares favorably with Farber's Evolution of Chemistry. usually considered as quite adequate. From the viewpoint of period it makes a good companion to Jaffe's Crucibles but is more scholarly in presentation.