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A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire (2005)

de Amy Butler Greenfield

Altres autors: Mira la secció altres autors.

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7241331,536 (3.7)20
This book recounts the colorful history of cochineal, a legendary red dye that was once one of the world's most precious commodities. Treasured by the ancient Mexicans, cochineal was sold in the great Aztec marketplaces, where it attracted the attention of the Spanish conquistadors in 1519. Shipped to Europe, the dye created a sensation, producing the brightest, strongest red the world had ever seen. Soon Spain's cochineal monopoly was worth a fortune. Desperate to find their own sources of the elusive dye, the other Europeans tried to crack the enigma of cochineal. Did it come from a worm, a berry, a seed? Could it be stolen from Mexico and transplanted to their own colonies? Pirates, explorers, alchemists, scientists, and spies--all joined the chase for cochineal, a chase that lasted more than three centuries.--From publisher description.… (més)
  1. 10
    The Fabric of Civilization: How Textiles Made the World de Virginia Postrel (alco261)
    alco261: A Perfect Red provides additional details for the section of the Postrel's book on dye and conversely.
  2. 00
    For All the Tea in China: How England Stole the World's Favorite Drink and Changed History de Sarah Rose (EveleenM)
    EveleenM: If you enjoyed reading about the pursuit of cochineal red, you may also enjoy reading about the pursuit of high-quality tea for the British Empire.
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» Mira també 20 mencions

Es mostren 1-5 de 13 (següent | mostra-les totes)
Group read for museum reading group. Interesting enough to finish. ( )
  JudyGibson | Jan 26, 2023 |
Enthralling look at the cochineal bug which makes red dye. Interesting for everyone not just those interested in natural dyes. People fought and died for this stuff. A good read and a fine example of the micro history trend. ( )
1 vota Luziadovalongo | Jul 14, 2022 |
Lolli Jacobsen
  PTArts | Oct 6, 2021 |
Only reason I gave it three stars rather than four is that the prose is a little slow at times. Otherwise, it was pretty good. See my full review over in my blog here. ( )
  bloodravenlib | Aug 17, 2020 |
This was a fasctinating book - so much information that I knew the top layer of, but had no idea all the history that lurked beneath! I love reading about how some tiny event, object or person can shift the entire world history ... and this book is full of those lovely gems. A more in-depth look at the entire timeline would take many many books, as this covers everything from ancient red dyes through Cortez and Spanish rule of the Americas, and on into 20th century chemical dye creations. So while the author basically paddled through the shallow end of the history swimming pool, she did it very well. I never felt like asking the book "but wait! what about that thing you mentioned earlier?" - all loose ends are tied up. A very well-written book - I don't think I ran across a single sentence that made me wince and think "needs an editor!" or "where was the proof-reader when this sentence was approved?". Very good work - direct, detailed, yet also gives a big-picture view of the history of not just red dye, but dye in general.

The one quibble I have with the book is with the figures (illustrations/photos). The text references the photos by figure number ("see fig 2") - but the figures themselves ARE NOT LABELED THAT WAY. Gah! You have to physically count 1, 2, 3 etc in order to make sure you're looking at the correct figure. And there's no actual photograph of the item that has a starring role in the book, nor is there a photograph of the plant it lives on. Nor is there a photo of the dried, powdered dyestuff. But there is a scientific drawing in the figures that isn't even labeled or described on the photo page! Very very frustrating. Hundreds of pages in the book about this ingredient, and no photos of it.

So while the writing gets 5 stars, the lack of photo labelling and lack of wanted photos takes it down to 3 stars - so averaged at 4. ( )
  camelama | Dec 30, 2016 |
Es mostren 1-5 de 13 (següent | mostra-les totes)
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Amy Butler Greenfieldautor primaritotes les edicionscalculat
de Vicq de Cumptich, RobertoDissenyador de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Field, Nancy B.Dissenyadorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Sancery, ArletteTraductionautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
van Eyck, JanAutor de la cobertaautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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Humans see the world in a cascade of colors, with eyes that can distinguish any single shade from more than a million others. (Prologue)
Forty miles west of Florence, in a fertile Tuscan valley not far from the Mediterranean Sea, lies the serene and sunlit city of Lucca.
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This book recounts the colorful history of cochineal, a legendary red dye that was once one of the world's most precious commodities. Treasured by the ancient Mexicans, cochineal was sold in the great Aztec marketplaces, where it attracted the attention of the Spanish conquistadors in 1519. Shipped to Europe, the dye created a sensation, producing the brightest, strongest red the world had ever seen. Soon Spain's cochineal monopoly was worth a fortune. Desperate to find their own sources of the elusive dye, the other Europeans tried to crack the enigma of cochineal. Did it come from a worm, a berry, a seed? Could it be stolen from Mexico and transplanted to their own colonies? Pirates, explorers, alchemists, scientists, and spies--all joined the chase for cochineal, a chase that lasted more than three centuries.--From publisher description.

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