“Providing a history of how Americans came to construct a dichotomy between pure and adulterated foods, The Chemistry of Fear makes a useful and novel contribution to the field of food history, which is seldom presented in the form of biography.”


“Successfully walking the fine line between biography and academic monograph, Rees has created a vibrant history of Harvey Wiley’s life and work that also explains, with academic rigor, the context and importance of this work. Engaging, fast-paced, and very readable. Anyone interested in food policy, safety, and production, as well as scholars of history and the history of science and technology, will enjoy this book.”


The Chemistry of Fear offers a clear-eyed view of the famed Harvey Wiley, who helped shape our modern food system. Jonathan Rees persuasively unpacks the legend around Wiley, reconsidering his legacy as the ‘Father of Pure Food,’ and leaving readers with something more complex, but also more satisfying.”

“This gracefully-written book offers an engaging assessment of the life and times of food purity crusader Harvey Wiley. Interspersing Dr. Wiley’s personal history (and romantic entanglements!) with his principal crusades, Jonathan Rees offers an incisive assessment of Wiley’s personality, philosophical outlook—and enduring impact on American food. A great read and the definitive biography of this important man.”


“Reading the historical record against the grain of popular memory and interpretation, The Chemistry of Fear shines fresh light on the life and work of Harvey Wiley. In so doing, it weaves Wiley’s legacy anew into the complex dynamics of purity, naturalness, safety, risk, and fear that shapes today’s politics of ‘good’ food.”