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Luca Turin can distinguish the components of just about any smell, from the world’s most refined perfumes to the air in a subway car on the Paris metro. A distinguished scientist, he once worked in an unrelated field, though he made a hobby of collecting fragrances. He eventually published a collection of his reviews of the world’s perfumes. His book excited the small, insular business of perfume makers, who eventually opened up to Luca Turin, and he discovered a fact that astonished him: no one in the world really knew how smell worked. Subsequently, he realized that billions and billions of dollars were spent creating scents in a manner amounting to glorified trial and error.
Acclaimed writer Chandler Burr has spent four years chronicling Luca Turin’s quest to unravel the mystery of how our sense of smell works. What has emerged is an enthralling book that will change that way we currently think about our olfactory nerves.
The Emperor of Scent is a fascinating look at a modern-day scientist's attempt to change the way other scientists, industries, and everyday people think about scents and smells.
"Professional perfume critic, obsessive collector of rare fragrances, academic-bad-boy biochemist and world-class eccentric, Luca Turin would be the worthy subject of a book even if he hadn't come up with a revolutionary scientific theory. Written with skill and verve, The Emperor of Scent is an engrossing intellectual detective story about one iconoclast's quest to solve a centuries-old mystery—how smell works." —Miles Harvey, author of The Island of Lost Maps