Floating Gold

    By

    Preternaturally hardened whale dung is not the first image that comes to mind when we think of perfume, otherwise a symbol of glamour and allure. But the key ingredient that makes the sophisticated scent linger on the skin is precisely this bizarre digestive by-product-ambergris. Despite being one of the world's most expensive substances its value is nearly that of gold and has at times in history been triple it, ambergris is also one of the world's least known. But with this unusual and highly alluring book, Christopher Kemp promises to change that by uncovering the unique history of ambergris. A rare secretion produced only by sperm whales, which have a fondness for squid but an inability to digest their beaks, ambergris is expelled at sea and floats on ocean currents for years, slowly transforming, before it sometimes washes ashore looking like a nondescript waxy pebble. It can appear almost anywhere but is found so rarely it might as well appear nowhere. Kemp's journey begins with an encounter on a New Zealand beach with a giant lump of faux ambergris - determined after much excitement to simply be lard - that inspires a comprehensive quest to seek out ambergris and its story. He takes us from the wild, rocky New Zealand coastline to Stewart Island, a remote, wind-swept island in the southern seas, to Boston and Cape Cod, and back again. Along the way, he tracks down the secretive collectors and traders who populate the clandestine modern-day ambergris trade. "Floating Gold" is an entertaining and lively history that not only covers these precious gray lumps and those who covet them, but also presents a highly informative account of the natural history of whales, squid, ocean ecology, and even a history of the perfume industry. Kemp's obsessive curiosity is infectious, and eager readers will feel as though they have stumbled upon a precious bounty of this intriguing substance.

    View more

    Number of Pages: 232
    Format(s): Hardback - ISBN: 9780226430362
    Publication Date:
    Listed in: Animal physiology, Marine & freshwater mammals
    Publisher: University of Chicago Press

    Books by Christopher Kemp

    Hardback

    RRP: £17.00

    Sale Price: £16.06

    Save: £0.94 per copy!

    Currently out of stock

    Side-Banner-Right-188px-fd.jpg
    Books TV & Movies

    You might also like...

    Latest from the blog

    Fantastic new recipe book from Sabrina Ghayour 'Sirocco'

    Sabrina Ghayour's long awaited second recipe book Sirocco is out this month and is a great follow up to Persianna. Read article

    Ten Great Bedtime Reads from The Great British Bookshop and Aspace

    We have teamed up with Aspace (www.aspace.co.uk) who create beautiful room for Children to bring you 10 great bedtime reads for your little ones. Read article

    Latest from Twitter

    • @TheGBBookshop - 3 years ago

      Lottery funding for dementia reading project £2m pledged for Reading Agency scheme to pair readers with dementia sufferers

      @TheGBBookshop - 3 years ago

      Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has held on to the number one spot for a sixth week #HarryPotter #CursedChild @littlebrown @pottermore

    • @TheGBBookshop - 3 years ago

      @thebookseller @MartinaCole @Jeffrey_Archer @Foyles

      @TheGBBookshop - 3 years ago

      Frith wins inaugural Klaus Flugge Prize for illustration t.co/U9P08h4XMG

    • @TheGBBookshop - 3 years ago

      RT @Gue_de_Bost: #Dordogneholidaycottage available Sept tweet to book for more info

      @TheGBBookshop - 3 years ago

      The editor is just back from france @HomeAwayUK! t.co/IWutTER1x7