2008: 83.  A Perfect Red

“Humans see the world in a  cascade of color, with eyes that can distinguish any single shade from more than a million others.”

A Perfect Red:  Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire, Amy Butler Greenfield

This was my Dewey Decimal 700 book, which is the SCIENCE section! I think.  The categories are sort of a closed book to me, actually - maybe I should read a book about the Dewey Decimal system!  Anyway, this book is about the search for the perfect color red - the search for a dye that would make the richest red color possible.  The story is fascinating, making me realize how much we take modern colors for granted.  In days of yore color, true color was a science created by real dyers whose trade secrets were literally worth their lives.  Only the super rich could afford the richest best colors, particularly reds.  The best red came from the cochineal, an insect found in Mexico that only the Spanish had access to, and that the rest of the world was dying to find out.  The book tells the whole story - the Western world’s discovery of the dye, the slow realization of what it was worth, and then the attempts to recreate it - from theft to science (for a while no one knew if it was a bug or a plant), and then, finally, its overtaking by chemical dyes.  It is an interesting story, about something about which I knew nothing.  I found it a little dry at times, but learned a ton.  Which is the exactly the point of the Dewey Decimal game!

Date/Place Completed: 6/26/08; D.C.

Categories: Non-Fiction, Library Book, Dewey Decimal (667.26 G8125)

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017