"Every element says something to someone (something different to each) like the mountain valleys or beaches visited in youth. One must perhaps make an exception for carbon, because it says everything to everyone, that is, it is not specific, in the same way that Adam is not specific as an ancestor."
—Primo Levi
"The story of carbon is an exciting journey and Eric Roston is a super storyteller!"

Roald Hoffmann, 1981 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry.

"A high-level entry in the single-element history genre... Lucid and occasionally disturbing."

Kirkus Reviews

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About the Author

Eric Roston is a science writer in Washington, DC, and author of the forthcoming book THE CARBON AGE: How Life's Core Element Has Become Civilization's Greatest Threat. The book, based on three years of research, traces the dynamic, fundamental science that unifies seemingly disparate parts of our experience: Climate, energy, health, industry--the fastest way to learn the most about the world is through the carbon atom. Walker & Co. will publish the book in July. The Boston Globe included The Carbon Age in its list of the most-anticipated books of 2008. The book has received endorsements from several prominent thinkers.


Roston is Senior Associate in the Washington, DC, office of The Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University.


Previously, Roston wrote for TIME, in its Washington bureau, where he covered economics, politics and technology. Roston joined the magazine in 2000 as a business reporter in the New York bureau, covering stories such as the collapse of Enron, China's emergence as a force in global trade, and how advanced computing technologies are reshaping the economy. An eyewitness to the collapse of the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Roston was a part of the reporting team that won a National Magazine Award for best single-issue coverage.


In September 2002, Roston became a part of TIME's Washington bureau. He traveled extensively with President George W. Bush and Senators John Kerry and John Edwards during the 2004 election campaign, providing analysis and reporting to the magazine's seasoned political team. He was also a frequent contributor to the magazine's work on energy, environmental and health issues. He has penned a monthly column on technology and society for TIME Inside Business. In the spring of 2004, he became Time.com's first blogger, writing a daily commentary on "the technology that will carry us through tomorrow -- and the stuff that keeps us stuck in yesterday."


Roston has been a guest on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBC, National Public Radio and various radio stations nationwide and abroad. Prior to TIME, he wrote for LIFE magazine and contributed to Slate.com, where he wrote the "Today's Papers" column. Roston, who is fluent in Russian, holds an M.A. in Russian history, and a B.A. in modern European history, both from Columbia University. He lives in Washington, DC, with his wife, Karen.

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"I am, reluctantly, a self-confessed carbon chauvinist. Carbon is abundant in the Cosmos. It makes marvelously complex molecules, good for life... But I sometimes wonder. Could my fondness for these materials have something to do with the fact that I am made chiefly of them?"
—Carl Sagan