English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper
Was it a betrayal of the modern movement to be in love, as John Piper was, with old churches? Harris finds the engagement of artists and writers with the English countryside during the interwar years ‘an expression of responsibility – towards places, people and histories too valuable and too vulnerable to go missing from art’. Among the now much-admired figures discussed are Paul Nash, Edward Bawden, Gertrude Hermes, John Betjeman and Daphne du Maurier, and the book features carefully chosen quotations and reproductions of their works.
An Adventure History of Paris
Paris is one of the most alluring cities in the world; however well we know it, it never ceases to surprise. Reading this book, which retells its history through the lives of its inhabitants from Balzac to Baudelaire, Sartre to Sarkozy, is like stumbling upon a tiny restaurant frequented by eccentric locals. Robb is both a scholar and an adventurer, and from 250 years of urban history, he weaves a dazzling tapestry of fact and fantasy, memory and myth. Slightly off-mint.
The Age of Elizabeth II
Rocked by Suez and scandal, galvanized by Wilson's 'white heat of technology', tuned into the Beatles and polarized by Thatcher, the reign of Elizabeth II has seen Britain transformed from post-war austerity to the digital age. AN Wilson's ambitious social and cultural history combines broad narrative sweep with telling detail to portray an era in which imperial certainties crumbled before the complex realities of modern multi-cultural society.
The People Who Made a Civilization
Covering three millennia of Chinese history, this book comprises 96 short biographies of people from as wide a range of regions, ethnicities, eras and achievement as possible. Illustrated with portraits and other artworks, the listing begins with a woman - Fu Hao, a royal consort and female warrior of the 13th century BCE - and includes people from every sphere of political, military, cultural, artistic and scientific life, up to the end of the 20th century.
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.
A History of Britain in Thirty-Six Postage Stamps
From the world's first postage stamp, the 1840 Penny Black, to the First Class stamp 2012, Chris West's selection of 36 stamps – 'some beautiful, some quirky, some baffling, some stained with blood' – are the inspiration for his idiosyncratic and entertaining history of Britain. Among his collection are the 1881 Penny Lilac (33 billion printed); the first decimal set (1971); and a single foreign stamp telling a story of reparations and hyperinflation: a 1923 German 200 mark stamp, overprinted 2 million.
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.
The Seventy Great Inventions of the Ancient World
In richly illustrated sections on technologies, transportation, hunting and warfare, art and science, and personal adornment, this volume describes crucial inventions on every continent from the earliest times to 500 CE in the Old World and 1520 CE in the Americas.
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.
The Complete Greek Temples
A leading authority on Greek archaeological sites, Professor Spawforth tells the story of Greek temples as a cultural phenomenon and follows their spread as far as Libya and Ukraine, stressing religion and politics as well as art and architecture, and later antiquity as well as classical Greece. This complete, fully illustrated survey traces the origins, rise and decline of collonaded temples, explains the practicalities of their construction, and presents an up-to-date gazetteer of Greek temple sites, arranged by region.
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 such as the clockmaker and leper Richard of Wallingford. More than 170 colour illustrations complement the text.
The Greeks Overseas
Their Early Colonies and Trade
Described by the TLS as ‘a masterly summary’, this is a classic study of the earliest Greek trading posts and colonies. Boardman explains what archaeology has revealed about the Greeks’ travels as far afield as southern Egypt and northern Spain; he also highlights how much Greek arts and culture owed to foreign influences. This fourth edition features an extra chapter on recently discovered evidence and fresh theoretical approaches to the interpretation of this important period of European history.
The Medieval World Complete
This survey of one of the great ages of European civilization is illustrated with photographs of paintings, sculpture, buildings and objets d’art. Chapters covering the beginning and the end of the Middle Ages frame six sections on religion and the Church, nations and laws, daily life, art and architecture, scholarship and philosophy, and the world beyond Christendom. The book includes biographies of key personalities from Charlemagne to William Wallace, timelines, maps and a gazetteer.
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’).
On 5 Deben A Day
You have travelled back to 1250 BCE, to the land of the pharaohs – but how will you know which sights to see and what to do? Based on contemporary sources, this entertaining guide offers an archaeologist's advice on the local customs, food and drink, religious festivals and the vibrant cities of Memphis and Thebes. It also teaches such useful phrases as 'Mer pay-ee aa' ('My donkey is ill').
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.