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The Book of Black: Black Holes, Black Death, Black Forest Cake and Other Dark Sides of Life Hardcover – September 19, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1606600498 ISBN-10: 1606600494

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The Book of Black: Black Holes, Black Death, Black Forest Cake and Other Dark Sides of Life + The Medical Book: From Witch Doctors to Robot Surgeons, 250 Milestones in the History of Medicine (Sterling Milestones) + The Drug Book: From Arsenic to Xanax, 250 Milestones in the History of Drugs (Sterling Milestones)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Calla Editions (September 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1606600494
  • ISBN-13: 978-1606600498
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #292,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

From the Black Hole of Calcutta and the Dark Side of the Moon to Black Bart, Black Beauty, and Black Sabbath, this unique journey into darkness sheds light on the worlds of science, history, art, and philosophy. Bestselling author Clifford A. Pickover takes us on an unusual and historic journey through curious, amusing, and important topics related to "black." Beware: this wondrous panoply of subjects, stunning images, and entertaining and informative text can shift from sexy to cosmic with just the turn of a page!
With entries short enough to read in just a few minutes—but pithy enough for endless pondering—The Book of Black features 100 captivating black-and-white and full-color images. The book roams far and wide through politics, popular culture, science, sociology, history, sports, religion, and superstition. A reference section offers suggestions for further explorations of Black Pudding, Black Velvet Paintings, Blackbeard, "Black Magic Woman," and other dark matters.
Dover (2013) original publication.
See every Dover book in print at
www.doverpublications.com
[back flap]
The author of more than forty books that have been translated into over a dozen languages, Clifford A. Pickover has explored topics ranging from science and mathematics to religion, art, and history. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University and has been awarded more than 100 U.S. patents. His research has received considerable attention from media outlets ranging from WIRED to The New York Times, and his website, www.pickover.com, has received millions of visits.
[optional back flap quotes]
Praise for Clifford A. Pickover
"A perpetual idea machine, Clifford Pickover is one of the most creative, original thinkers in the world today."—Journal of Recreational Mathematics
"I can't imagine anybody whose mind won't be stretched by [Pickover's] books."—Arthur C. Clarke

Customer Reviews

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Genius with a sense of humor.
Kartar Diamond
THE BOOK OF BLACK is one of those appealing books you can read cover to cover or just pick a random page and jump on in.
Michael OConnor
The subject matter covered in the Book of Black seems to defy classification.
Paul Moskowitz

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By James Kozloski on September 30, 2013
Cliff Pickover provides us yet another breathtaking book, collecting images that appeal, with a set of intriguing articles spanning science, history, culture, and the occult. What a wonderful twist this new book offers, covering not an academic subject or field (cf. his other books: The Math Book, The Physics Book, The Medical Book), but instead a category that can only be described as sublime and emotional. Black. The color without color. Pickover obviously chose it as the subject of his book to unify the outer ring of our thoughts and culture, exploring a variety of subjects with astute scholarship, each surrounding this uncertain topic. He delivers a few surprises, making us aware that black is not only foreboding and unnerving (Black Death, Black Holes, Heart of Darkness), but also beautiful and exotic (Black Mamba, Black Madonna, Black Forest Cake), and sometimes a controversial label used by a misguided culture (Blackface, Little Black Sambo, Coal Black Rose) which Pickover handles in a scholarly and nuanced manner. Read this and enjoy your journey through darkness with Pickover as your light.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Paul Moskowitz TOP 1000 REVIEWER on September 30, 2013
The Book of Black is the latest in a series of over forty books by Clifford Pickover, award-winning author of The Math Book. In this latest book, there are exactly one hundred entries arranged in chronological order. Each entry is provided with a two-page layout. On the left-hand page, there is a written explanation and on the right-hand page, there is a full-page image. My favorite images are the photos of the Black Slug, Black Cat, and Black Forest Cake (looks yummy).

The subject matter covered in the Book of Black seems to defy classification. Black is an attribute, a color perhaps, but not a well-defined area of study. Upon thinking about the contents, I can see that some categorization is possible. Black may simply be a color, as is seen in the first three entries: Black Diamonds, Black Hills, and Black Slug. Alternatively, black or its synonym, dark, may stand for the unknown: Dark Matter and Dark Energy. There is also an evil or negative connotation possible: Black Magic, Dark Ages, and Black Tuesday.

One could probably come up with hundreds of black or dark subjects. These differing subject areas allow the author to exercise his imagination in the choice of subjects to cover. The result is nothing short of brilliant. As a physicist, I am well acquainted with the physical phenomena that are covered. However, my interest in the book was raised by the number of subjects that I had never heard of before. There was something new on almost every page. Shortly after reading about the movie, Dark City, it appeared on one of my cable channels. A cosmic coincidence.

I think that this book is Pickover's best. His talent for outrageous thinking comes through. I can see sequels. Anyone for The Book of Red, or The Book of White, or The Book of Green?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dennis W. Gordon on October 29, 2013
If Cleopatra had an ugly but benign skin growth on her nose, caused by a mutation of a single skin cell, the entire cascade of historical events could have been different. Obviously, history is contingent on the tiniest of forces.

Wow. Starting right from the jazzy full color cover this is a beautiful book. The cover itself shows a tempting assortment of reduced size images culled from the book and which serve to pique one's interest to investigate the stories behind them. For example, notice the black swan on the cover - hard to imagine such a critter for those of us outside of Australia. When you look it up the entry not only describes and illustrates these lovely birds, but also tells about Black Swan Theory, that is, the idea of considering the unexpected. "Many in the West had once believed that all swans were white. When black swans were finally observed, this reinforced the importance of considering unexpected events." Similar delights await the reader upon pursuing other cover images like those of Satan, the black cherries, the portrait of the English pirate Blackbeard, the Pieter Bruegel painting of the Black Death of 1348-49, and the card game of Blackjack. In all, there are exactly 100 entries all held together by the common theme of the color black.
And, why black in particular? "Black is often the color of secrecy or the unknown." And, how black can black be? What materials are especially black? How can blackness be expressed or measured? All the answers to these questions are in these magnificent pages. The format of the book makes for some very comfortable reading. On the left hand pages are brief passages on the particular black topics while the facing pages display full page illustrations, mostly in full color.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Isaac on October 4, 2013
Black. Few single words can conjure up as many thoughts, feelings, and images. In Cliff Pickover's newest literary creation, "The Book of Black," he explores many of these. Much like his acclaimed works The Math Book, The Physics Book, and The Medical Book, Dr. Pickover takes us through a journey through history to explore our fascination with black. The book itself is high quality with each entry accompanied by a stunning high-quality image. Some entries, such as the Black Widow Spider, are straight forward yet intriguing, while others like the Black Hole of Calcutta shows man's cruel history, and Black Death makes us realize we are all at the whim of nature. Dr. Pickover does not shy away from controversy with entries such as Little Black Sambo. I found while reading the book that as entertained as I was, I came away realizing how much I actually learned about things like Dark Matter and Blackbody Radiation Law. I was also able to correct some of what I thought I knew about subjects like the Black Death. Walking through chronological entries, I was able to get a feel for where a discovery, creation, or happening took place within the history of the Earth and humanity. Dr Pickover has shined a spotlight on Black, and I for one could not be happier.
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