"So what?" you might say. "A teenager invented a new color." As Simon Garfield admirably points out in Mauve, the color really did change the world. Before Perkin's discovery all the dyes and paints were colored by roots, leaves, insects, or, in the case of purple, mollusks. As a result, colors were inconsistent and unpredictably strong, often fading or washing out. Perkin found a dye that would always produce a uniform shade--and he pointed the way to other synthetic colors, thus revolutionizing the world of both dyemaking and fashion. Mauve became all the rage. Queen Victoria wore it to her daughter's wedding in 1858, and the highly influential Empress Eugénie decided the color matched her eyes. Soon, the streets of London erupted in what one wag called the "mauve measles."
Mauve had a much wider impact as well. By finding a commercial use for his discovery--much to the dismay of his teacher, the great August Hofmann, who believed there needed to be a separation between "pure" and "applied" science--Perkin inspired others to follow in his footsteps: "Ten years after Perkin's discovery of mauve, organic chemistry was perceived as being exciting, profitable, and of great practical use." The influx of bright young men all hoping to earn their fortunes through industrial applications of chemistry later brought significant advances in the fields of medicine, perfume, photography, and even explosives. Through it all, Garfield tells his story in clever, witty prose, turning this odd little tale into a very entertaining read. --Sunny Delaney --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I read this book for book club. I liked how informative it was about discovering the color, mauve. But the author told the story in its historical context which made it very... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Karen E. Muench
Worth a relaxed and gripping read for those of us interested in the history of our profession, or history (coupled with a real life story) in general.Published 3 months ago by Karel Vlok
This book combines information that's interesting to historians and to scientists. I used the ideas presented in this book in my history and science classes to demonstrate the link... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dog Owner
Good book about a quirky topic (inventing a color, which then has global impacts). Many parallels to modern times as well.Published 3 months ago by Surf
It was a quick read and very interesting. It's a great blend of science, economics and history. It also features dashes of subtle English wit.Published 6 months ago by Margaret Caldwell
yes, a lot of detail... read this for a book club - not necessarily what i might have read otherwise. well done - ties in history, fashion, etc with the chemistry... Read morePublished 6 months ago by dena
This isn't a gripping read full of plot twists and intrigue, but the historical aspect of the book is fascinating, if you're into that sort of thing (and I am).Published 12 months ago by Robert W.
I really enjoyed reading about William Perkin. Little pieces of our history like this need to be known about. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Zane Sodeur
If you are looking for an engrossing novel, look elsewhere.
If you are looking for a series of interconnected historical perspectives on the effects one discovery had on... Read more