A grab-bag of 100 fascinating topics related to black
The Book of Black
by Clifford A. Pickover
2013, 214 pages, 8 x 9 x 1
$17 Buy a copy on Amazon
When I recently reviewed The Medical Book by Clifford Pickover, I didn’t realize it was part of a “250 Milestones” series of at least six books, including Pickover’s The Math Book and The Physics Book. These books cover 250 different topics within their title’s theme, dedicating two pages per entry (each comprised of one page of text and one impressive illustration or photograph). Each book moves along in chronological order, starting in BC and ending in 2014 or beyond.
A cousin to these books, The Book of Black, is Pickover’s latest. I say cousin because although it’s related, with the same layout and chronological format of a two-page spread per entry, there are differences with this book: it covers only one-hundred milestones, and it’s smaller in size and page count.
Because of its smaller size, I was a little skeptical of how this book would compare to its meatier companions. And the title’s theme was a bit loose: while The Medical or Math or Physics Book focuses on one umbrella subject from beginning to end, The Book of Black isn’t really looking at the color black itself as something to examine throughout the years, but rather looks at anything that happens to either be dark in color or that simply has the word black in its name. It seemed a bit random and I wondered if that would be as satisfying.
The answer is a whole-hearted yes. As soon as I flipped to the entry “Black Death” (1348), about the Black Plague (or Bubonic Plague), I couldn’t put the book down. I moved on to the history of the song “Blackbird Pie” (1549) – who knew that in the olden days pies were really baked with live blackbirds that flew out when the pie was opened? – and then flipped to Goya’s “Black Paintings” (1819), followed by the massive electrical “Blackout” in the United States of 2003. I finally settled down and started reading from the beginning: “Black Diamonds” (3-billion BC), which are thought to have “descended from the heavens.”
This book is a really fun grab-bag of fascinating black facts related to science, pop-culture, sports, animals, religion, history, and so much more. But beware – many of the entries only whet my curiosity, forcing me to Google the web for a lot longer than I will admit to get more details and answers. – Carla Sinclair