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The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell Paperback – 17 May 2007


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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; New Ed edition (17 May 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571215386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571215386
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 1.5 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 202,714 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Luca Turin is the man who perfume-lovers openly adore. He's the author of The Secret of Scent (Faber, 2006). His top-rated perfume is Guerlain's Mitsouko.

Product Description

Review

"'The Secret of Scent may be a curiosity, but it is one that will have you smelling the silence of a snowy night.' Observer"

Book Description

The Secret of Scent: Adventures in Perfume and the Science of Smell by Luca Turin, the man Newsday describes as 'a renegade scientist and perfume critic with an extraordinary sense of smell.'

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Aug. 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well, I wish I'd had Luca Turin teaching me chemistry! Here is a scientist, who is, to use that classic word generally associated with popular TV detectives 'a maverick' . He's outside the mainstream, passionate, committed, and charismatic. And a scientist. Maverick and scientist are made for the production of conflict AND excitement.

I'd concur with the reviewer who says this is all about molecular chemistry. Yes it is. But boring? Absolutely NOT. I have some layperson's chemistry, enough to edge my way through with a lot of wet towel to the head moments - but its true to say that if you are wanting something exciting about olfaction which is more for the lay reader, there are better books, Luca Turin's own Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, a delightful, witty encyclopaedia of perfumes past and present, Chandler Burr's biography of Turin, which is more completely friendly to the physics and chemistry naif The Emperor of Scent: A Story of Perfume, Obsession and the Last Mystery of the Senses, or, if your interest is in olfaction and its evolutionary development and effects on home sapiens the engaging The Scented Ape: The Biology and Culture of Human Odour. And if you can get hold of it Lyall Watson's fabulously readable Jacobson's Organ: And the Remarkable Nature of Smell

Back to Turin, and this book. He explains clearly and engagingly 'functional groups' from an olfactory perspective, is utterly engaging about molecular chemistry, finding ways to help the almost innocent to understand how odour can be analysed, not just by complicated machines (GC/MS) but, more excitingly within the nose itself. He explains current thinking, and the battles between those who say olfaction is due to molecular shape (particle) and those who say it vibrational (wave) Shapers and Wavers!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By AnnPan on 29 Mar. 2011
Format: Paperback
Luca Turin is a witty and accessible writer who explains difficult scientific concepts with great clarity. But I get the strong impression that his publisher is trying to ride on the coat-tails of the outstandingly readable Perfumes: The A to Z Guide (the cover design is a bit of a clue). The author is a biophysicist with a passion for perfume which leads him into the world of chemistry. If you are not an organic or phyical chemist but you love reading science books that are aimed at an intelligent layperson, and are prepared to go with Turin and not get too fussed if you can't follow every word, then stick with it. This is one of those fascinating accounts by a maverick who goes against the established science and comes up with a highly plausible new theory - in this case, the mechanism by which we are able to smell. Not only that, but Turin puts his money where his mouth is, and putting his theory into practice he starts inventing new synthetic perfume ingredients commercially - pretty convincing I'd say. I loved this book but I must confess (a) I have a (very ancient and dusty) first degree in Physiology & Biochemistry with Chemistry, and (b) I don't have very many friends that I can pass this book on to. Perhaps I am underestimating my booksharing friends. It really is a riveting read. Try it.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Robert Rankin on 23 Sept. 2009
Format: Paperback
What a great, great book. I just finished reading it and was heading for the computer to leave some good words on Amazon to praise this masterpiece. Being a perfumer's apprentice myself, I can judge the book from own experience, working with most of the raw materials described and having had similar insights in the last few years.

Mr. Turin knows 100% what he is talking about. This is no "I copy from other books and hopefully nobody will notice" type of thing. "The secret of scent" is amazingly well written, it reads like a novell, like an adventure in science. Reading this book means great fun while teaching you the cornerstones of modern perfume design at the same time. Luca writes in a way so you can understand and not so you just know how dumb you are and how smart the author thinks he is, as many other "science books" are composed. I would recommend it to just everybody being interested in how perfumes "tick", but for perfumers it is the "#1 must read".

"The secret of scent" starts with a description of why we can't make perfumes only with natural substances alone and how it came we went deeper and deeper in understanding scents using chemistry. It then explains very detailed and in a crystal clear and logical chain HOW WE SMELL! Being a graduated physicist myself, I'm fully convinced Mr. Turin found the solution to this thousand years old mystery.

"The secret of scent" really left me breathless; a true revelation in the science of scent. IMHO, this book has a place among the "100 best popular science books ever written".
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Star Khechara on 18 Dec. 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this book on a whim - and because of the amazing reviews it had - and I wasn't disappointed. This is more than a book, it is a journey through fragrance and France and chemistry and business politics all wrapped up with nostalgia and exquisitely crafted prose.

Yes it is heavy on the chemistry but that's perfumery! The intricacies of scent molecules and atoms are woven like a spell or story rather than a science textbook - you'll be fascinated even if you hated school science.

The book is small and easy to handle, making it ideal bedtime reading (oh come on, I can't be the only one who reads science in bed? can I?).

The author's powers of description are so apt that I could swear that wafts of Patchouli and Ambrette seed were gently diffusing from the pages and sending me into raptures.

I will be sad when I have finished, much like when engrossed in a touching film and the end brings about that grey melancholy of 'normal life' again.
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