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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing story of Mauve's impact on 20th Century Britain, 13 Dec. 2000
By A Customer
I found "Mauve" absolutely fascinating, not least for the remarkable chain of events that followed Sir William Henry Perkin's work on aniline dyes. Having been absorbed by this excellent book, I found it rather sad that even now, with so many 20th Century developments arising from Sir William's discoveries, such an unsung hero should still be relatively anonymous and even his final resting place cannot be found.
By a rather nice coincidence, though not related to Sir William, my father, Philip Perkin, worked in colour chemistry and industrial pigment production for over forty years in the North of England and would often return home with clothes spattered with every hue imaginable, just like his namesake !!
Mauve is a must-read for those intrigued to know how an apparently innocuous laboratory development led to the establishment of today's global chemical industry and changed our world, in so many ways, forever.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating look at the history of organic chemistry, 9 Oct. 2001
By A Customer
If, like me, you always thought chemistry was boring, think again! This book manages to make the subject of manufactured dyes interesting: describing the competition to invent new dyes, and the developments following on from Perkin's discovery in vivid prose.
"Mauve" follows on from the ground best trod by Sobel with "Longitude", and may not be as gripping, but "Mauve" is certainly one of the better popular science books I've read.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look at science and fashion, 15 Sept. 2000
By A Customer
Mauve is almost impossible to categorize. It is part biography, part science history, part medical history and part fashion book. It tells the story of Sir William Perkin, the man who discovered the first artificial dye - mauve - in the 1850s. The colour was a sensation at the time, but was even more remarkable for what it led to - particularly the advances in medicine such as the study of chromosomes and the subsequent conquest of disease such as tuberculosis. Mauve was discovered by Perkin when he was 18 by mistake, when he was looking for a way of making quinine. The book ends with the eventual discovery of articial quinine many years later. I especially liked the way Simon Garfield interweaves the past and present story. It's a remarkable and I think untold tale of how one colour achieved so much, and it will make you think about all colours in a totally different light.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The colour purple - and why it matters, 28 Feb. 2011
By 
A. Warmington (Hampton, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Chemistry. A boring subject for nerds, right? I used to think so, that's why I dropped it as soon as I could and ended up as a historian, only to return to it in my professional life as the editor of a magazine about it. If this book had been around 30 years ago, I might have thought differently.

'Mauve' is a terrifically entertaining and informative read, everything a good non-fiction book should be. It tells the story of how Sir William Perkin 'sort of accidentally' discovered the first true synthetic dyestuff while trying to synthesise quinine and in the process not only made his own fortune but kick-started modern industrial chemistry as well, debatably the whole modern world. It wasn't a complete accident - people had been on the lookout for artificial colours that could be made cheaply at large scale for years - and reflected the work of an enquiring mind in a subject then dismissed as of no real importance.

Many of the themes still echo today. The process was discovered in Britain but developed further and made better in Germany, which then steamrollered the British dyestuffs industry into oblivion. It's all gone to India, now, of course. And if you think short-termism, a focus on shuffling money about, a sniffiness about innovation and lack of government support for industry and entrepreneurs is a modern disease, think again; they were very much there in the 19th century too.

Also very much echoing today is the downside of chemicals. They are dangerous in the wrong hands and much of this went pell-mell into products that exposed people to real danger. Just like today, the industry was often arrogant and defensive about it, while the popular press raised hysteria with no sense of proportion. And how typical of Britain that we know so little about this man and that it took considerable work to even locate his grave.

An excellent book, as illuminating in its way as the beautiful purple dye that colonised our streets for a couple of surreal years in the 1860s. Find it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Mauve: How one man invented a colour that changed the world, 17 Jan. 2011
This book was bought for my father who is interested in all things scientific. I looked at the past reviews and they did not let me down. He has told me the the book is fascinateing and a good read, and he was amazed at what this discovoury led to and how it has influenced the world we know. When my Mother has finsihed reading it, I am looking forward to finding out about mauve.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Colour Factor, 9 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Mauve: How One Man Invented a Colour That Changed the World (Kindle Edition)
If you take for granted that you can go to the shops and purchase clothes and materials of all kinds of hues and shades of purple this book will open your eyes to the extra-ordinary story of how that is even possible. This is the story of William Perkin's accidental discovery that he could make a new shade of purple in a laboratory and the consequences of that discovery. It turns out that the consequences were enormous and this single discovery was the catalyst for a chemical revolution that ultimately led to the production of poison gas destined for the fields of Flanders.
A great story well told.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Surprisingly fluid and engaging read, 9 Mar. 2013
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Just how interesting can a potted history of the chemistry of the development of aniline dyes, the story of the forgotten Englishman behind their invention and their initial commercial exploitation really be? As it turns out, quite. A fine page-turner of a book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating story of the development of both chemistry and modern pharmaceuticals, 26 July 2014
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This review is from: Mauve: How One Man Invented a Colour That Changed the World (Kindle Edition)
This was recommended by John Carey in his autobiography and so I got it. It really is good and will rove interesting to both scientists and non-scientists alike
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5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read, 25 Oct. 2012
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This book is very interesting and a really easy read. Not heavily scientific but full of detail which helps us appreciate the story. Excellent.
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5.0 out of 5 stars How Acrylic colours changed public perception, 5 Feb. 2015
By 
Judith Joseph "genealogist/researcher" (Birmingham England UK) - See all my reviews
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This is a biography with explanations by the author. Fully detailed, human, with much historical information as to colour and its context.
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