The Rescue Artist, by Edward Dolnick, ★★★✫ (3 and 1/2 out of 5 stars)
I had read another book by the author, The Clockwork Universe. And this was my review:
This was such a fast pace non fiction read. Fascinating to say the least. Very well written, very well. The part when he talks about Newton and Leibniz in the Hanoverian empire is gripping. I wish they made a movie about it. It’s intriguing. But my favorite trait in this must read is the way the author talks about the mathematical and scientific discoveries, how well he presents those, and how he gets to the heart of the history and way of thinking of the different scientists and era. He expands on how it was possible (or impossible) to conceive theories, or advance premises in order to make the terrain fertile for breakthroughs. He also introduces the ignorant reader to the core of the discoveries.
It’s so wonderful to know there are nowadays books like this that will teach anyone reading them, and my daughters, science and maths without having to do it through a boring text that touches only on the surface, when some authors are able to write such enticing books, and divulge knowledge through books in a way what you learn stays with you forever.
Much of the same applies to this other title. Non fiction as engaging as a great novel. Dolnick introduced me to a fascinating world of which I knew nothing, the world of art crimes and art rescues. The Scotland Yard real cop, Charles Hills, an unusual person with a fascinating past and outlook to life and his mission in it, was a pleasure to meet.
The book is mainly about the theft of one of the four Scream paintings (the most famous of the four copies by Munch), and its recovery. Along the main event, Dolnick takes some detours in some chapters to include past cases in which Hills recovered art, and a bit of the history of how art thefts have changed across the centuries.
The book has two sections with generous pictures of some of the works and people mentioned in it. I loved to see how those villains and cops look like, as well as the works of art they managed to steal.
I was transported to Oslo, and London, and also to the minds of these peculiar people, (from art dealers of dubious reputation, to true mafiosos, gangsters, thugs of different nationalities and flavors.)
If anything, the book is a bit heavy on language, but if someone talks like that, it won’t be fair to edit the person’s talk, right? Another fascinating factor in the book is the American/British accents. Charles Hills has to maneuver back and forth, depending who he is impersonating, and his act needs to be natural, so he had a couple of difficult situations when the wrong idiom slipped.
I recommend it. I’m going to continue reading more by this author. He seems to deliver good non fiction.
(I have to say that between those two books, The Clockwork Universe was better. Dolnick, maybe because of his science background, was amazing explaining why, when, and how calculus came to be ‘discovered’. He managed to explain difficult concepts without making any part of the book dry or difficult to follow.)
He has a new title coming up in June, The Seeds of Life. It sounds like a perfect summer reading to me!