A Perfect Red

A Perfect Red

Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire

Book - 2005
Average Rating:
3
Rate this:

A Perfect Red 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 English, French, Dutch, and 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. A Perfect Red tells their stories -- true-life tales of mystery, empire, and adventure, in pursuit of the most desirable color on earth.

Publisher: New York : HarperCollins, c2005.
ISBN: 9780060522759
0060522755
Branch Call Number: 667.26 GRE
Characteristics: viii, 338 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (chiefly col.), col. ports.

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

n
Novel_Librarian
Oct 17, 2016

I picked up this book while in a small mountain town in Bolivia, volunteering and learning to do some simple weaving. Weavers in the area are working to reclaim some of the traditional knowledge they've lost, including dying from natural dyes. For their reds, pinks, and lavenders they use cochineal, so the woman I was staying with gave me this to read. It's a very informative, narrative account of just how we get reds, and the extraordinary lengths people have traditionally gone to to get it. It's of particular interest again now, as cosmetic companies have discovered that by using cochineal they can label their products "organic." All well and good, except that now it's leading to an international shortage of cochineal (echoes of the 16th century here), and so traditional weavers in Bolivia and Peru and elsewhere will begin to have difficulty purchasing it.

All of which is to say - the history of a color that continues to be written and impact diverse societies! My only caveat is that you can tell that it was written by an academic, in that it can occasionally be a bit dry in places.

m
mclarjh
Jan 18, 2016

More than you wanted to know, a little too boring.

i
IV27HUjg
Jul 14, 2015

Again, only small print.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.

Summary

Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Recommendations

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at ORL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top