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This beautifully written book is a study of the intimate relationship between the inanimate environment and living organisms. It describes how the evolution of both has been interactive and interdependent: the environment and life developed together, The authors show that this can be explained in terms of the properties of the chemical elements and their compounds. It discusses the physical and chemical balances between the animate and inanimate worlds, with kinetic and thermodynamic principles given to support this analysis. These principles are applied to both organic and inorganic chemical systems to provide a basis for understanding the evolution of life in terms of the interaction of both types of chemistry within ever more complex organisations. The book conludes with an examination of an intriguing problem for mankind: the long-term consequences of man's selection and manipulation of chemicals. This may have consequences for the long-term future of life from changes in the environment - not just only due to bulk but also to trace element alterations.