Review: Brilliance and Fire

June 14, 2016 non-fiction 4 ★★★★★

Review: Brilliance and FireTitle: Brilliance and Fire: A Biography of Diamonds
Author: Rachelle Bergstein
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads

Summary: This engaging story that used a single object to tell great personal stories, as well as talking about larger social issues and historic moments, was everything I want from a microhistory.

Diamonds have long fascinated people far beyond their value and the diamond industry has worked hard to keep it that way. Throughout history, they have been associated with everything from critical wartime manufacturing to genocides but still advertising and an artificially limited supply have fairly consistently maintained their association with luxury and love.

I’m just going to go ahead and say it – this book rocked. It was a real gem. A diamond in the rough. I’m also suddenly very impressed at the author’s restraint in use of puns 🙂

All punning aside, this truly was an awesome book. The author had a very engaging storytelling style. She did an impressive job bringing people and eras to life, using just the right amount of informality and humor to be fun and accessible while still educating. She also picked an interesting topic to work with. From their discovery to their role in engagements, heavily promoted by DeBeer’s, diamonds have a long and fascinating history that she made the most of. Even just the preface was entertaining, funny and full of fun facts. And in the same space, the author also managed to use diamonds to get at bigger questions about history and humanity.

I find I’m not able to write much more, as much as I’ve been writing for my thesis lately, so I’ll wrap by saying this was precisely what I look for in a microhistory. The author’s combination of entertaining and informing, of focusing on the little details that bring stories to life and the big picture of why they matter, was perfection. Highly recommended.

4 Responses to “Review: Brilliance and Fire”

    • DoingDewey

      Haha, thanks Jenny! I’m not usually very punny, but it was a little late when I was writing this and I felt very inspired/slaphappy in my tiredness 🙂

    • DoingDewey

      Thanks Naomi! It’s not a topic I especially wanted to read myself before hearing about this book, but I can’t say no to a interesting microhistory 🙂

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