• The Golden Thread

  • How Fabric Changed History
  • By: Kassia St. Clair
  • Narrated by: Helen Johns
  • Length: 11 hrs and 26 mins
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars (261 ratings)

Prime logo Prime members: New to Audible?
Get 2 free audiobooks during trial.
Pick 1 audiobook a month from our unmatched collection.
Listen all you want to thousands of included audiobooks, Originals, and podcasts.
Access exclusive sales and deals.
Premium Plus auto-renews for $14.95/mo after 30 days. Cancel anytime.
The Golden Thread  By  cover art

The Golden Thread

By: Kassia St. Clair
Narrated by: Helen Johns
Try for $0.00

$14.95/month after 30 days. Cancel anytime.

Buy for $19.17

Buy for $19.17

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's summary

The best-selling author of The Secret Lives of Color returns with this rollicking narrative of the 30,000-year history of fabric, briskly told through 13 charismatic episodes.

From colorful 30,000-year-old threads found on the floor of a Georgian cave to the Indian calicoes that sparked the Industrial Revolution, The Golden Thread weaves an illuminating story of human ingenuity. Design journalist Kassia St. Clair guides us through the technological advancements and cultural customs that would redefine human civilization - from the fabric that allowed mankind to achieve extraordinary things (traverse the oceans and shatter athletic records) and survive in unlikely places (outer space and the South Pole). She peoples her story with a motley cast of characters, including Xiling, the ancient Chinese empress credited with inventing silk, to Richard the Lionhearted and Bing Crosby.

Offering insights into the economic and social dimensions of clothmaking - and countering the enduring, often demeaning, association of textiles as "merely women's work" - The Golden Thread offers an alternative guide to our past, present, and future.

©2018 Kassia St. Clair (P)2019 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

What listeners say about The Golden Thread

Average customer ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    170
  • 4 Stars
    68
  • 3 Stars
    16
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    3
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    140
  • 4 Stars
    56
  • 3 Stars
    20
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    4
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    148
  • 4 Stars
    56
  • 3 Stars
    12
  • 2 Stars
    4
  • 1 Stars
    2

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Excellent for those interested in textiles

Having enjoyed St Clair's 'Secret Life of Colors' so much, I looked forward to reading this as well and am happy to have listened to it instead of choosing the print format because Helen Johns' narration made it all the more enjoyable.

The author invites us all to explore the role that textiles play in the human experience. However, stepping back from my own intense interest in the subject, I am not entirely sure this book would appeal to a general audience. But if simply contemplating spinning, sericulture, sumptuary laws and the like makes your heart beat a little faster, as it does mine, I recommend it highly.

St Clair creates thirteen self-contained chapters about textiles. This is not a comprehensive history, nor does it pretend to be. Subjects include the origins of weaving, mummy wrappings, silk in ancient China, cities of the Silk Road, Viking sails, the wool industry of medieval England, luxury fabrics, cotton in America, clothing for Everest and the Antarctic, rayon workers, space suits, high performance sports fabrics, and spider silk.

Having read many histories with an exclusively feminine (and sometimes feminist) slant, speaking of the so-called 'consolations of the needle' and drudgery of 'women's work,' I found this book added a more modern and expansive viewpoint.

The best thing about the book is that it leaves you wanting more. One might study any number of additional considerations from a given chapter. But isn't that always one of the great joys of reading well-written history? I'm grateful there are authors like St Clair write so meaningfully about a subject which for many of us is nothing less than an obsession.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

32 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Mixed feelings about this book

Narration is pretty terrible - she sounds like she’s going to burst into tears any minute. As far as the book itself - some chapters were interesting and others go into too much detail about completely irrelevant things - this book is about textiles - do I really want to hear very long descriptions about astronauts eating, urinating and defecating. Chapter about Everest climbers could have been shorter. I’m sure there are a lot of textile related material was completely omitted from the book.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Deep dive into textiles and history

A detail packed look at textiles and fibers and the part they have played in progressing human development. More sociology than craft, I still found it captivating and I learned alot. Many interesting tidbits to share with others who like the topic. Had enough factual detail that I have been looking for that I wanted to get a hard copy. Fills an overlooked part of our history for certain.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

5 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

not really about actual textiles

I thought it was going to go over textiles in history,. It spoke more about irrelevant stories with specific clothing pieces rather than an overview. I also found these stories pretty depressing. I understand many facets of textile production are involved with social injustices, but that's not what I was hoping to hear about. If you want to simply learn about how different textiles are made and how they came into fashion, this is not that book.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Mixed feelings on the one.

Mixed feelings. Is it about fabric or social injustices? Portions don’t even touch on fabric. Princes oversized tennis racket...

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

3 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great book!

The history was fascinating and it’s well written. I wish he or she had gone into more specific fabrics.
The narration was great!!

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Great book, okay narration

Fantastic. I love this book so much. I love learning about the history of textile production and the lives of the people who made them.

I did have one quibble with the narrator. She didn't always research the pronunciation of things. The one that bothered me the most was in the section on sports fabrics, she mispronounced Nike. Not just once but Many, Many times. It is "NI-kEy" not "Nik." I feel like someone in the production chain should have caught that even if the narrator had never heard of the incredibly famous sportswear brand.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

not good..

I wish I could return this purchase. The entire story was bad and badly read. I'm sadly disappointed.

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Loved it!

I absolutely loved this book. Anyone interested in pursuing a career in fashion, fashion design, interior or furniture design should read this. In fact anyone who wears clothes or uses upholstered items must read!! Fascinating and informative!

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Even more fascinating with every sentence!

An absolute must read (or listen) for anyone interested in fiber arts, textiles, or fashion. Full of hard hitting facts and truly compelling narratives pulled from historical record, this book is an eye opening journey through human history and a timely reminder that we are all connected and have a responsibility not only to ourselves and our planet, but even more importantly each other. I cannot recommend this book enough!

Something went wrong. Please try again in a few minutes.

You voted on this review!

You reported this review!