How One Man Invented A Colour That Changed the World

Book - 2000
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An artificial dye, mauve, was discovered by a 19th-century chemist called William Perkin while searching for a synthetic alternative to natural quinine. This book examines how the different worlds of fashion, industry, business, chemistry and medicine were transformed by a single colour.
Publisher: London : Faber and Faber, 2000
ISBN: 9780571201976
Branch Call Number: 667.257092 Perki-G
Characteristics: 222 p. : ill. (some col.)


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Sep 06, 2017

The book could have spent a lot less time on the dinner celebrations and more on the chemistry and maybe the environmental contamination. The insight that an apparent frill like the color of a lady's dress (when a lot of people weren't ladies and couldn't afford miles of material in their skirt) would open the way for investment in a whole chemical industry.

Sep 20, 2013

This was a fascinating book, lots of interesting historical information. Mauve was actually a byproduct of coal tar but it was a hit in the fashion industry.

hgeng63 Feb 08, 2012

Not as good as his Just My Type.

Jan 06, 2010

The premise of this story seems like it ought to be interesting. However, the way this is written is rather dry. I can't help but think that Malcolm Gladwell would have done a much better job telling this story.


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Aug 28, 2010

The impact and history of aniline dyes on war, general research, and medicine. Commercial production of anilines started over 100 years ago in Europe, with the synthesis of a mauve pigment from aniline by William Perkin.

The dye was the residue produced by a misconceived attempt at the chemical synthesis of quinine. Instead of discarding the substance he explored the nature of what he had.
Serendipity is only going to occur to those with an open mind. The final section deals with modern medical and research applications such as how staining advanced microscopy.

Microhistory of the aniline dye industial start and how it changed our society.
It changed me to read the book because I never knew the history of the dye I used at work. Trypan blue only stains the dead cells leaving viable cells clear so a percent mortality can be estimated.

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