Lyrical Anthropological Examination That Needs Better Scientific Documentation. When Rawlence is describing the people and peoples he is traveling to and among, he has such a lyrical quality to his prose here that it really is quite beautiful – these are the best parts of this book. However, Rawlence is also quite the pessimist about human action and survival, going on at one point to proclaim that Earth would be better off without humanity. While this is not an unheard of proposition, fantastical claims like that require substantial documentation – and documentation is what this text sorely lacks, clocking in at barely 10% of the overall text (25-30% being more “normal”, and I’ve read books making far less fantastical claims clocking in north of 40% documentation). Ultimately, your opinion of the book is likely going to depend on whether you agree with Rawlence’s politics and philosophies, though, again, the writing when he is *not* speaking to these really is quite beautiful. Still, even in what he does present and even with the lack of documentation, this is a book that needs to be read by most anyone speaking to any level of climate science, as he does bring up some truly valid points here and there. Recommended.
This week we’re looking at a fascinating examination of the history of pigments – not a book about vision itself, but about the pigments humans have used over the course of our history and how these pigments have been a part of our technology since pre-history. This week, we’re looking at Full Spectrum by Adam Rogers.
A Rainbow Of Possibilities. This isn’t the book about vision I thought it was when I originally picked it up (admittedly without even reading the description, the title alone was intriguing enough). This is instead a book about the history and current science of dye manufacturing and how it is both one of the most ancient of technologies humans have known and one of the most groundbreaking. As it turns out, my own area – Jacksonville, FL – plays a role in the narrative, being a large source of the most technologically advanced white dye currently known. Yes, at times the book gets a bit… winding… and it can seem like we have diverged into other topics altogether, but the author always winds up coming back to the central thesis after these jaunts through various bits of history. Truly a fascinating read about a history many don’t know and a topic many might find a bit mundane – which is exactly what makes the work so awesome, particularly combined with the author’s great timing with comedic levity. Very much recommended.