Edmund de Waal – The White Road


An intimate narrative history of porcelain, structured around five journeys through landscapes where porcelain was dreamed about, fired, refined, collected, and coveted. Extraordinary new nonfiction, a gripping blend of history and memoir, by the author of the award-winning and best-selling international sensation,The Hare with the Amber Eyes.

In The White Road, best-selling author and artist Edmund de Waal gives us an intimate narrative history of his lifelong obsession with porcelain, or “white gold”. A potter who has been working with porcelain for more than 40 years, de Waal describes how he set out on five journeys to places where porcelain was dreamed about, refined, collected and coveted – and that would help him understand the clay’s mysterious allure. From his studio in London, he starts by travelling to three “white hills” – sites in China, Germany, and England that are key to porcelain’s creation. But his search eventually takes him around the globe and reveals more than a history of cups and figurines; rather, he is forced to confront some of the darkest moments of 20th-century history.

Part memoir, part history, part detective story, The White Road chronicles a global obsession with alchemy, art, wealth, craft, and purity. In a sweeping yet intimate style that recalls The Hare with the Amber Eyes, de Waal gives us a singular understanding of “the spectrum of porcelain” and the mapping of desire.

Author: Edmund de Waal
Narrator: Michael Maloney
Duration: 11 hours 53 minutes
Released: 15 Oct 2011
Publisher: Macmillan Audio
Language: English

User Review:

procurement rewarding

I loved de Waal’s journey through the history of porcelain and I’m not even a potter or collector. He travels to locations around the globe that were the epicenter of porcelain history and thoughtfully reconstructs what it might have been like, based on carefully researched articles and manuscripts. He thinks deeply on the idea of “white” as expressed in porcelain and what porcelain meant in the context of the time and place. It surprised me how much it mattered! He follows the trail of the trailblazers who invent porcelain again and again, we see fortunes rise and fall, and human nature at its best and worst. It’s a fascinating journey even if you have no interest in pots at all.