The history of textiles, more than that of any other artifact, is the history of human ingenuity.
These two surveys range widely in their coverage of textile arts, which continue to gain ground in both scholarship and popular awareness. In her first book, London designer Cole primarily offers a visual tour. The organization, which works through a general geographic and then chronological arrangement, seems a bit awkward and strained. The page layout is stylish, however, and the colorful illustrations of patterns create a book with a lot of eye appeal. The text mainly consists of captions for each illustration, with a very short introduction for each chapter pulling the themes together. Aimed at lay readers, this book is more comprehensive than Susan Meller and Joost Elffers's Textile Designs, which is nevertheless better organized. Public or academic collections would benefit from having both. Renowned textiles expert and author Schoeser (International Textile Design) has crafted a compact history of textiles for Thames & Hudson's paperback "World of Art" series. Arranged roughly into chronological periods, the book meticulously details technique, materials, and designs and puts them in historical and cultural context. This is truly a fantastic history of textile arts. The pictures are a bit disappointing, smallish and sometimes in black and white. But the text itself is a delight to read and more comprehensive than in other comparable works, such as Textiles: 5,000 Years, edited by Jennifer Harris. Whereas Harris's book is much more visually stunning, Schoeser's is a definitive history, highly readable and intriguing. Highly recommended for all collections.-Karen Ellis, Nicholson Memorial Lib. Syst., Garland, TX Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.