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Floating Gold: A Natural (and Unnatural) History of Ambergris Hardcover – May 15, 2012
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About the Author
Christopher Kemp is a molecular biologist who currently lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan, with his wife and two sons. He has worked as a columnist for Cincinnati CityBeat, and his science writing has appeared on Salon.
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Top Customer Reviews
Since most people will never see or smell ambergris, or even care that it exists, it's not surprising that the subject has so little in-depth and reliable documentation. Do many people even know that it had value as a gourmet condiment throughout history, and was/is one of the gems of the perfume industry? Most mention of it seems to be anecdotal in nature. And because there is so much confusion about even identifying it, and obtaining even the smallest piece is a trial of some expense and trust, it really has fallen into the realm of myth, rather than reality.
Mr. Kemp, inflamed by a sensational local New Zealand newscast, tenaciously pursued a way to satisfy his own curiosity about this product of Sperm whale excrement, and this adventure, while undoubtedly intensely frustrating at times, is really worth reading about. He encounters many closed doors and is given the cold shoulder the majority of the time, but his sincerity was apparent to some, and they allowed him to step into the back room of museums and personal collections to analyze the properties that most of us would like to understand about ambergris, and he punctuates this with peoples subjective perceptions of how the different grades of it smell and feel.
I think this book was sorely needed and Mr. Kemp did a splendid job fleshing out some of the reality of the back-breaking and risky business of the ambergris trade. He does this with the perfect balance of empirical evidence and a sense of humor. BTW, where can I get a bottle of 'Eau de Christopher Kemp?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I received a draft version of this book (!?) but even with the obvious flaws that a good editor could have fixed, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Island of Temple Grass
Wonderful book on an obscure topic. Part history, part nature book, part journal of an explorer.Published 14 months ago by Patrick C. Weidinger
I enjoyed this very much. Lots of very hard to find info. Highly recommended to those who want to know more about ambergris, a most fascinating substance.Published 15 months ago by B Scott Methvin
Amber has always intrigued me, especially The Amber Room of the Catherine Palace. This book adds further info about a non-resin amber--grey!.Published 18 months ago by JK
This was a fascinating topic and a great story telling journey for me. Well written with a friendly easy going tone. Very educational on very rare subject matter!Published 19 months ago by jmso
I am interested in perfume and the primary use of ambergris is in perfume. It is also a rare natural substance. I am glad I bought the book and thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Alison K. Diamond
For fans of fragrance miscellanea only: having said that, this book sheds light on a mysterious and extraordinary ingredient used in fragrance production. Read morePublished on December 5, 2013 by troskie yvonne