Perfect Red, A Empire, Espionage And The Quest For The Colour Of

Perfect Red, A Empire, Espionage And The Quest For The Colour Of

3.86 (2,312 ratings by Goodreads)
By (author) 

List price: US$7.99

Currently unavailable

Add to wishlist

AbeBooks may have this title (opens in new window).

Try AbeBooks


"A Perfect Red" recounts the colourful history of cochineal, a legendary red dye that was once one of the world's most precious commodities. Treasured by the ancient Mexicans, cochineal was sold in the great Aztec marketplaces, where it attracted the attention of the Spanish conquistadors in 1519. 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. Desperate to find their own sources of the elusive dye, the English, the French, the Dutch, and other Europeans tried to crack the enigma of cochineal. Did it come from a worm, a berry, a seed? Could it be stolen from Mexico and transplanted to their own colonies? Pirates, explorers, alchemists, scientists, and spies - all joined the chase for cochineal, a chase that lasted for more than three centuries. "A Perfect Red" tells their stories - true-life tales of mystery, empire, and adventure, in pursuit of the most desirable colour on earth.
show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 432 pages
  • 129 x 199 x 29mm | 300g
  • Transworld Publishers Ltd
  • Black Swan
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • New edition
  • New edition
  • col. Illustrations, col. ports.,
  • 0552771287
  • 9780552771283
  • 610,191

Review quote

"[An] intricate history...Greenfield paints a broad historical panorama, never neglecting the intimate, eccentric, and often absurd human details."--Boston Globe
show more

About Amy Greenfield

AMY BUTLER GREENFIELD studied Spanish medieval history at Harvard and Oxford. She is descended from a family of textile dyers and is a member of the dyers guild in London.
show more

Review Text

"A Perfect Red gives you a new respect for what you might have thought was just another colour"
show more

Back cover copy

'A Perfect Red gives you a new respect for what you might have thought was just another colour.' New York Times Book Review

'Superbly researched history of Cochineal red, full of angles and tangents, curiosities and arcana...sprightly and charming.' Washington Post

The quest for the perfect colour red is an adventure into world history. For those who knew its secrets, red was a source of wealth and power. To obtain it, men sacked ships, turned spy, courted death. This is their story...

For centuries after the conquistador Hernan Cortes spotted the vibrant cochneal dye in an Aztec Marketplace and sent it on the high seas back to his Spanish King, this luminous luxury was the subject of war and intrigue. But few in Europe understood its true nature. Was it plant or animal? Could it be transplanted from Mexico to other countries?

Encompassing the history of art and textiles, of natural philosophy and science, of engineering and empire, this tale is every bit as flamboyant of the colour itself.
show more

Rating details

2,312 ratings
3.86 out of 5 stars
5 32% (738)
4 34% (790)
3 25% (582)
2 6% (146)
1 2% (56)
Book ratings by Goodreads
Goodreads is the world's largest site for readers with over 50 million reviews. We're featuring millions of their reader ratings on our book pages to help you find your new favourite book. Close X