The Golden Thread: How Fabric Changed History
By Kassia St Clair.
2019, John Murray, 978-1-47365-9-056, £10.99 pb.
Reviewed by Caroline Stone on September 9, 2020
This lively and amusing book traces the impact of textiles on humanity from caves to the moon walk. Very well researched, though not academic, it is conveniently divided into short sections so that it can either be read chronologically or dipped into for fascinating and unexpected information. The author begins with the origins of weaving—what appear to be the first man- (almost certainly woman!) made threads, which come from a cave in the Georgian Caucasus and date back some 35 millennia. She goes on to discuss the linen of ancient Egypt, the Silk Road, the woolen sails of Viking ships and the wool trade of medieval England; lace, cotton and its enormous social impact in America, and various modern synthetics, and she concludes by returning to nature with the elusive silk of spiders. The book is well designed with excellent notes, glossary, bibliography and index.