Imagine a world without rubber - neither tyres for motoring or flying, nor bouncing balls for sports, neither seals for washing machines and dishwashers, nor medical gloves, no elastic! This unique book tells the fascinating story of four thousand years of rubber - from its significance in Mayan religious rituals and culture to its pivotal role in today's world. It is seen through the lives of the adventurers and scientists who promoted it, lusted after it, and eventually tamed itinto the ubiquitous and crucial material of our lives today. At the same time, it includes the lives of those who caused the deaths of millions of natives in Africa and South America whilst seeking to satisfy the developing world's lust for this wonderful new material as well as their nemeses.As with any biography, this book considers old age, why rubber deteriorates and how the ravages of time may be ameliorated. In death, it deals with our current concern for the environment and various options for "waste disposal". For the majority of people, rubber is mostly an unknown history andeven for those who think they know "the truth" about rubber, this book may offer many surprises.