Not sure if it was the datedness of this book that caused me not to like it or just not my type of book. I won it in a library raffle with a bunch of other book-themed books and some cat food. I plowed through it despite sort of figuring out the angle of what was going on partway through. There’s a lot of publishing inside baseball going on here which is maybe interesting if that’s a world you inhabit but to me it was confusing and hard to keep track of. The book is at its strongest when it goes up to Nova Scotia but there’s such a wealth of description I sort of felt like the whole thing was a way to get the author a tax write-off for a vacation. Not great.
Mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand I really like the anti-conventional wisdom sorts of looks at stuff I don’t know much about, with people telling me how to get data and how to interpret it. On the other hand, unlike the first book, this book is smug. The authors are too assured, too disdainful of their subjects and people’s alternate theories. They seem to believe that because there is a model that suggests or supports their interpretation of events, that it is corrct, that there is no other model. I found this book a little too jokey and a better jumping off point for REALLY learning about these topics from some other source that didn’t seem quite so invested in one particular outcome. As usual, these guys are smart and interesting and the book is well-written. Unlike last time, they sort of seem to know it this time and view themselves and the book as product in a way that seemed, to me, as a little too self-aware and the book suffered for it.
My appreciation for this book as a whole was totally overrun byt the fact that one of the chapters takes place in my neighborhood about 20 years ago. Turns out there was an art collector, more of an art hoarder really, who had a disused church that was totally jam packed with old [and in some cases valuable] early American portraits. When the author was just starting out in his illustrious career, he made a trip to Vermont to check out this guy’s stash. This chapter made me all twitchy and jittery “Hey that happened HERE!” "Hey I want to know more about THAT"
I did manage to sit down and actually read the rest of the book, but it was a little tough to do. This book is totally enjoyable. Mould has a good writing style, an ear for a good story, and apparently an eye for seeing a diamond in the rough. This book talks about discovery. Paintings found in an old church, a picture bought on eBay for a song and restored to become a work of art that command a great price, the detective work, generally, that goes into figuring out whether a painting that looks like it might be by someone famous actually IS by that person. It’s a great set of stories complemented with photos that help you see what Mould is seeing.