The Georgian Art of Gambling: Being A Miscellaneous
Collection of Fashionable Card Games and Diverse Pastimes
Claire Cock-Starkey's miscellany of Georgian pastimes – and addictions – covers everything from cards in the drawing room to wagers on cock-fighting and the ruination of gambling-addicted aristocrats.
The Silbury Treasure
The Great Goddess Rediscovered
Situated just south of Avebury, Silbury Hill in Wiltshire is Europe's tallest prehistoric structure; when this book was first published in 1976, recent archaeological investigations had suggested that the hill was not, as had previously been believed, a burial mound. Dames surveys the history of earlier digs at the hill, then uses comparative archaeological evidence, astronomy, ethnography, folklore, mathematics and place-name research to argue that the shape of the site represents the Neolithic Great Goddess.
Chronicle of the Old Testament Kings
The Reign-By-Reign Record of the Rulers of Ancient Israel
The history of ancient Israel is told through the biographies of 83 leaders, from the founder Abraham (c.1450 BCE) and his son Isaac to Herod Agrippa, who died in 44 CE when the region was under Roman occupation. Seeking to reveal the historical figures behind the familiar names and traditional stories, Rogerson discusses debates about the accuracy and interpretation of the biblical accounts and the insights provided by other ancient texts and archaeological discoveries. Off-mint.
Inside the Neolithic Mind
Consciousness, Cosmos and the Realm of the Gods
During the Early Neolithic period (c.10,000–5,000 years ago) agriculture became a way of life and the first large settlements were established. In this sequel to The Mind in the Cave, the authors combine archaeological evidence, such as Near Eastern skull burials and the massive stone monuments of western Europe, with insights from research into the universal functioning of the human brain, to propose radical new theories about the role of mind, art and religion in ancient cosmology and society.
Chronicle of the Queens of Egypt
From Early Dynastic Times to the Death of Cleopatra
Some ancient Egyptian queens, including Nefertiti, wife of the radical reformer Akhenaten, and Hatshepsut, who rose from the position of a conventional consort to that of female pharaoh, are still renowned today. These women are set alongside lesser-known queens in this collection of biographies, which reveals their uniquely varied roles and their importance across 3,000 years of their country’s history. The book also features timelines, genealogical tables and photographs of sites and artefacts.
The Roman Fighter's Unofficial Manual
‘Having people fight and kill each other for entertainment requires some pretty flexible moral gymnastics’, writes Philip Matyszak. Here, he introduces the world of the gladiator, from entering the ludus (gladiator school) to the surprisingly wide range of career options if (a rather big ‘if’) you survive combat in the arena. The ‘manual’ includes quotes from the ancient authorities, a survey of the Empire’s best arenas and photographs of modern, reconstructed gladiators.
Greek Gems and Finger Rings
Early Bronze Age to Late Classical
The miniaturist art of gem engraving is the least familiar of the major arts of ancient Greece, yet we know it to have been practised by the greatest artists, and its masterpieces can challenge many better-known works of sculpture and painting. John Boardman presents a comprehensive, well-illustrated account of gem engraving in the Greek lands, examining the gems’ subject matter and iconography, the materials and technology used in creating them, and their relation to contemporary artistic works in other media. Slightly off-mint.
Rome and the Sword
How Warriors and Weapons Shaped Roman History
Simon James takes an archaeologist’s approach to the study of Rome’s military history, telling the story of the sword – ‘the literal cutting edge of Roman power’ – from early times to the fall of the western empire. To supplement the battle narratives of ancient historical writers, he explains developments in sword-smithing techniques and military ideology, considers cultural reasons for changes in hardware and tactics and helps the reader to visualize the direct human experience of the ‘myriad individual acts of mayhem’ in battle.
The Romans Who Shaped Britain
This vividly drawn history of Britannia puts the people of the province ‘back at the heart of the story’. Combining evidence from ancient texts and modern archaeology, the authors reassess familiar rulers and rebels, such as Claudius and Hadrian, Boudicca and Caratacus. They also discuss the influential roles played by many lesser-known figures and stress the importance of considering the actions of both Romans and Britons within the changing political and economic contexts of the wider empire.
A Short History
Dismayed by historians’ focus on the British imperial era, Andrew Robinson, the author of books on Rabindranath Tagore and Satyajit Ray, presents a non-academic study of India, from the Indus Valley civilization of the third millennium BCE, to the present day. Robinson tackles significant aspects in India’s story, rather than aiming to be comprehensive, and treats individuals, ideas and cultures as equal in importance to the rise and fall of kingdoms, political parties and economies.
Vivid Lives in a Distant Landscape from Charlemagne to Piero della Francesca
Ranging from the 9th century to the 15th, this collection of short biographies introduces 70 notable men and women from Europe and the Middle East. Dispelling popular myths about the medieval world’s ‘backwardness’, the book highlights the achievements of familiar figures such as Joan of Arc, the Venetian traveller Marco Polo and Persian polymath Avicenna, as well as lesser-known individuals including the clockmaker and leper Richard of Wallingford. More than 170 colour illustrations complement the text.
On 5 Drachmas A Day
For the tourist in fifth-century-BCE Greece, this guide covers the journey from Thermopylae to Athens, and describes how best to explore that great city. The book is packed with historical and cultural information as well as practical matters, such as where to stay and the price of fish, and it ends with a selection of useful phrases (‘Tauta pant’ esti moi barbara’ – ‘This is all Greek to me’).
Mary Queen of Scots
‘No man saw her without love,’ wrote a contemporary French chronicler, ‘or will read her story without pity.’ More than four centuries after her death, Mary, Queen of Scots remains a compelling figure. This book recreates her dramatic life and the courtly, intrigue-ridden world in which she lived. Its 194 colour illustrations include portraits, sketches and photographs of the castles and palaces in England, Scotland and France where her tragic story was played out. Off-mint.
Plague, Fire, Revolution
Samuel Pepys was born in London in 1633 and died there in 1703, having lived through revolution and Restoration, the Dutch raid, notable scientific advances, plague and fire. All of this he recorded in his diary and letters. The National Maritime Museum exhibition in 2015 presented 158 objects and paintings, and with essays by contributing scholars, this accompanying volume explores Pepys’s career and varied interests while illuminating aspects of 17th-century London life ranging from surgical procedures to Stuart portraiture.
Earthquakes, Nations and Civilization
Throughout history, humans have rebuilt settlements destroyed by earthquakes, so that today as many as 60 of the world’s largest cities lie in areas of major seismic activity. Robinson considers how we live with this risk and respond to its challenges: he identifies opportunities for post-disaster renewal and analyses the wider political and economic ramifications of earthquakes, with case studies ranging from the great uprising by ancient Sparta’s subject peoples to debates about nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima meltdown.
The Punch Brotherhood
Table Talk and Print Culture in Mid-Victorian London
Based on research among unpublished letters, diaries, minute books and business records, this study of Punch takes the reader inside the most successful and influential of comic magazines and brings to life the table-talk, jokes and gossip of its close-knit community of writers, artists and proprietors. Leary emphasizes the role of this talk in the understanding of 19th century print culture, shedding new light on the careers of Dickens, Thackeray and many other writers and journalists.
Medieval & Renaissance Interiors
In Illuminated Manuscripts
Illuminated manuscripts are an invaluable resource for understanding medieval and early modern life in castles, palaces and ordinary households, both urban and rural. Reproducing 140 little-known illuminations, mostly from the British Library’s collections, this book shows how these miniatures reflect medieval domestic interiors and how they provide information on topics ranging from the security of dwelling places to creature comforts such as heating and lighting, hygiene, beds and bedrooms, and the display of wealth and treasured possessions.
The Curious Map Book
The creation of maps is often a serious business in which accuracy takes precedence over the imagination. Drawing on the British Library collection, this delightful book presents 100 unusual maps in which the equation is reversed and fantasy comes to the fore. Here are nations portrayed as humans or animals – the British bulldog, the ‘Lion of the Low Countries’, the Russian bear; satires on contemporary politics; fictional countries; and maps as board games or jigsaw puzzles.
British Town Maps
The complexity of towns has stretched cartographers' ingenuity throughout history. After discussing the particular challenges of making town maps, including purpose, scale and printing, this richly illustrated volume, the printed companion to the online Catalogue of British Town Maps, surveys the history of urban mappings from the late Middle Ages to around 1900, then looks in turn at the specific uses of town maps, from depicting property ownership to fire insurance and town planning.
Lives in Letters
In chapters devoted to each monarch – Henry VII, Henry VIII, Edward VI, Mary I and Elizabeth I – this is a narrative account of the Tudor period, told through 42 letters and documents in the British Library’s collections. From Henry VII and Elizabeth of York’s autograph inscriptions in a prayer book, to a letter from Elizabeth I to James VI of Scotland in 1603, each item is illustrated in colour, fully transcribed and accompanied by a commentary setting it in historical context.