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Publisher's Summary

One of USA Today's “100 Books to Read While Stuck at Home During the Coronavirus Crisis"

The unforgettable, unknown history of colors and the vivid stories behind them.

“Beautifully written.... Full of anecdotes and fascinating research, this elegant compendium has all the answers.” (NPR, Best Books of 2017)

The Secret Lives of Color tells the unusual stories of 75 fascinating shades, dyes, and hues. From blonde to ginger, the brown that changed the way battles were fought to the white that protected against the plague, Picasso’s blue period to the charcoal on the cave walls at Lascaux, acid yellow to kelly green, and from scarlet women to imperial purple, these surprising stories run like a bright thread throughout history. 

In this book, Kassia St. Clair has turned her lifelong obsession with colors and where they come from (whether Van Gogh’s chrome yellow sunflowers or punk’s fluorescent pink) into a unique study of human civilization. Across fashion and politics, art and war, the secret lives of color tell the vivid story of our culture. 

“This passionate and majestic compedium will leave you bathed in the gorgeous optics of light.” (Elle)

©2017 Kassia St. Clair (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“Beautifully written and thoughtfully produced.... Full of anecdotes and fascinating research, this elegant compendium has all the answers.” (Nina Martyris, NPR’s Best Books of 2017)

“A kaleidoscope of charming, discursive essays.... A light and lively guide [that] offers plenty of fresh clues for the brain’s colorful calculations.” (The Economist)

What listeners say about The Secret Lives of Color

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So Interesting

honestly one of the most interesting books I've read. the vignettes are so well written and it's a wonderful walk across a bunch of colors to study the effects of color through history.

1 person found this helpful

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Helpful for painters

There is a lot of useful information for artists. Well read and enjoyable. No complaints.

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colorful

interesting... but not what I wanted i was looking for more of a color psychology book however it's more of a little known facts book about colors. breaking down each color with little trinkets of information.