Linus Pauling and The Nature of the Chemical Bond: A Documentary History Narrative  
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The Nature of the Chemical Bond was written in language that chemists could understand. Pauling purposely left out almost all mathematics and detailed derivations of bonds from quantum mechanics, concentrating instead on description and real-world examples. The book was filled with drawings and diagrams of molecules. It was, considering the breadth of its approach, amazingly readable.

And it was vitally important. In it Pauling had, as Nobel Laureate Max Perutz later said, shown that "chemistry could be understood rather than being memorized."

The response to its publication was immediate and enthusiastic. A letter Pauling received from a University of Illinois professor was typical: "I cannot refrain from taking the opportunity to express to you congratulations and my personal appreciation for one of the finest contributions to chemical literature that I have ever read."

G. N. Lewis, to whom Pauling dedicated the book, wrote him, "I have just returned from a short vacation for which the only books I took were half a dozen detective stories and your ‘Chemical Bond.’ I found yours the most exciting of the lot."

The book soon became a standard text at most of the nation’s leading universities. It would go through a number of new editions, be translated into French, Japanese, Russian, German and Spanish, and stay in print for almost three decades. It would become a Bible for a new generation of chemists and one of the most cited references in the history of science.

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Audio Clip  Audio: The Impact of the Nature of the Chemical Bond (part 2). 1997. (0:43) Transcript and More Information

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See Also: Letter from Linus Pauling to Irving Langmuir. June 2, 1939. 
See Also: Letter from Linus Pauling to G.N. Lewis. August 29, 1939. 

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Covers of several different editions of The Nature of the Chemical Bond. October 19, 2004.

Ava Helen and Linus Pauling peeking through the window of the Union Pacific Streamliner City Of Los Angeles. 1938.

"Just recently we have been having an unusually large sale of the book. This morning, for instance, we received a cablegram from Japan for 100 copies. Our stock in this country is now below 1,000 and we must arrange for a new printing or a new edition."

W.S. Schaefer
July 15, 1941
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