Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Emperor of Scent * Chandler Burr

It's unusual to find a book on science that is so highly, compellingly readable. The Emperor of Scent weaves together stories of science in theory and in practice (amazing discoveries, long years of research, stubborn hidebound resistance) and both the allure and industry of perfume, through the figure of Luca Turin, a PhD in biology and a self described "Bio-physicist" who has been practically obsessed with smell all his life . Turin is a scientist out of the mold of Richard Feynman: fun loving, entertaining, intense and monomaniacal. His personality is so compelling and his obsessions are so intense that together they drive the narrative of the book at an unrelenting pace.
Burr is a reporter: his work is well researched and well written. I would never have guessed I could be so curious about smells and perfumes, especially knowing nothing about either from the start. By the time I put down this book I was ready to go out and buy some expensive perfumes. I didn't, but I was ready to....

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