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A Perfect Red Hardcover – Apr 14 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; New title edition (April 14 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060522755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060522759
  • Product Dimensions: 2.9 x 15 x 21.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 544 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #909,609 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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First Sentence
FORTY MILES WEST OF FLORENCE, IN A fertile Tuscan valley not far from the Mediterranean Sea, lies the serene and sunlit city of Lucca. Known throughout the region for its trade in olive oil, flour, and wine, modern-day Lucca is not much more than a provincial market town, but its great piazzas, Romanesque churches, and medieval towers bear mute witness to a more illustrious past. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By my.two.cents on June 26 2007
Format: Hardcover
Mainly a reader of Canadian literature and some historical fiction, I don't think I've ever read a non-fiction, historical book so quickly. Not only is it a seemingly thorough history (spanning ~ 500 years) of cochineal, it is a beautiful story that captures the imagination.

As someone with little formal education in European history, but a fan of it all the same, I found the book quite valuable in that it touched on many areas: the Spanish Empire, colonialism, the scientific revolution, Renaissance artists, of course the textile industry.... etc., etc.

Not limiting herself to recounting dry, historical transactions, Greenfield seems to extract from her reference documents the actual personalities of the various players in cochineal's history. Overall, an excellent read that I would recommend to anyone!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 1 2006
Format: Hardcover
In my opinion, it's well researched and I found it a compelling
read. Like most textile related histories, it reminded me of the PBS
series "Connections".
The index and bibliography seem inclusive but somehow she kept indigo
and woad out of the story but that's ok because they have their own
books. She does include Perkin's purple.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rouge Rogue on Aug. 28 2012
Format: Hardcover
This non-fiction book reads like a good historical fiction novel. The narrative is well-written, comprehensive & addictive. As a lover of the color red, I was excited to learn about cochineal & the extraordinary challenges people endured to acquire it. It's made me appreciate how lucky I am to live at a time when red dyes are cheap & accessible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER on Aug. 26 2010
Format: Paperback
This book, "A Perfect Red" by Amy Butler Greenfield, takes us to many of secure worlds while showing us the economic and psychological histories of the color red. Much more than the color red, she shows how these economies created wars and alliances. She also covers commerce and the distribution of plants and animals as it is seen from the color red. The focus is not as narrow as it sounds and much of this can be applied to other plants and colors.

Mrs. Greenfield starts out in her book with justification for why she's following the color red. Some of these justifications are very thin. But once you get into the details of the book you will be absorbed and as much as you think you know about history, commerce, agriculture, botany, and politics there is always something new to be learned. Somehow I lived my whole life without ever hearing about cochineal (a type of red dye) and variants.

This book is so well written in such detail that you almost want to go out and try some of the experiments with your own creating of the color red.

If you enjoyed this book and the many adventures that Amy Greenfield carries you through then you will also enjoy reading "Green Cargoes" by Anne Dorrance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Coffeemaiden on Oct. 25 2009
Format: Paperback
An excellent explanation of the importance of red, from the Roman Empire through the conquest of Mexico by Cortes and beyond. It is full of explanations of how red is a descriptive word in our modern language and it is well written and easily read. I enjoyed this book very much and learned about something that I may have otherwise taken for granted and never really given much thought to. Highly recommended for artists, fabric dealers and history buffs.
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