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

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

by Amy Butler Greenfield

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Overview

In the sixteenth century, one of the world's most precious commodities was cochineal, a legendary red dye treasured by the ancient Mexicans and sold in the great Aztec marketplaces, where it attracted the attention of the Spanish conquistadors. Shipped to Europe, the dye created a sensation, producing the brightest, strongest red the world had ever seen. Soon Spain's cochineal monopoly was worth a fortune. As the English, French, Dutch, and other Europeans joined the chase for cochineal — a chase that lasted for more than three centuries — a tale of pirates, explorers, alchemists, scientists, and spies unfolds. A Perfect Red evokes with style and verve this history of a grand obsession, of intrigue, empire, and adventure in pursuit of the most desirable color on earth.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060522766
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/25/2006
Edition description: REPRINT
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 350,969
Product dimensions: 5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.79(d)

About the Author

Amy Butler Greenfield's grandfather and great-grandfather were dyers, and she has long been fascinated by the history of color. Born in Philadelphia, she grew up in the Adirondacks and graduated from Williams College. As a Marshall Scholar at Oxford, she studied imperial Spain and Renaissance Europe. She now lives with her husband near Boston.

What People are Saying About This

J. H. Elliott

“A fascinating story of greed and subterfuge, mixing fashion, folly and ingenuity in equal measure... Written with style and verve.”

Diane Ackerman

“Fascinating...Greenfield has given us a superbly researched history of cochineal red, full of angles and tangents, curiosities and arcana.”

Mark Pendergrast

“A marvelous book... Meticulously researched, this saga will enchant lovers of historical mysteries, fascinating characters, and world economics.”

Customer Reviews