A Wretched and Precarious Situation
In Search of the Last Arctic Frontier
In 1906, from the north of Greenland, Commander Robert E Peary claimed to have sighted a mountainous island in the Arctic Ocean. Six years later, two of his disciples, George Borup and Donald MacMillan, assembled a team to fill in this last blank space on the globe. This book follows their doomed expedition through blizzards, dissension, disease and a fatal boating accident, in search of a land that never existed. American-cut pages.
The Quantum Moment
How Planck, Bohr, Einstein, and Heisenberg Taught Us to Love Uncertainty
Schrödinger’s cat, the uncertainty principle, multiverses: the language and imagery of the quantum are now applied in all manner of contexts, from poetry and fiction to marketing and politics. A philosopher and a physicist analyse this cultural impact as they explain the origin and meaning of each term and consider what such uses and misuses reveal about the ways in which concepts from quantum mechanics help us to rediscover the strangeness of the everyday world.
The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression
Shirley Temple and 1930s America
During the 1930s Shirley Temple became the biggest box office star in the world: this is the story of her film career, with a strong focus on the wider cultural and political impact of her movies. Supported by contemporary photographs and visual material, it also explores the way that huge merchandise sales boosted jobs and local economies, and how the cinema reflected the mood of the nation during the Depression and FDR’s New Deal.
Lady Byron and Her Daughters
Thrown out of home by her husband, Lord Byron, Annabella Milbanke defied the gossip of Regency England to forge a new role as a social reformer. This biography records how, after a rebellious adolescence and volatile marriage, she went on to found the country’s first infants’ and co-operative schools, and campaign against slavery. She was also a talented mathematician, a skill she passed on to her daughter Ada Lovelace, now hailed as a pioneer of computing.
A Norton Anthology of Food Writing
This collection of food writing ranges from the Old Testament to the present. Arranged by topic, the chapters cover the role of food in memory, ethnicity and identity, the politics of food, and kitchen practices. Several of the great food writers such as Julia Child and Anthony Bourdain are here, as are writers not usually associated with gastronomy: Chekhov on oysters, Hemingway on campfire meals, Roland Barthes on chopsticks and Jhumpa Lahiri on takeaways.
And the Promise of Rock 'n' Roll
Springsteen’s breakthrough in 1975 followed years of playing in different bands in his native New Jersey. The social commentary of his lyrics and his live shows built a worldwide following and this biography analyses his life and music as well as his influence on American culture.
British Aristocrats in the American West 1830–1890
From the 1830s onwards, a succession of British aristocrats headed for the American West, taking with them their valets, their dogs – and their prejudices. This sparkling account describes the newcomers' experiences as they crossed the country to meet Native Americans, hunt buffalo and build cattle empires. Packed with lively incident and colourful personalities, it also charts their reception by Americans often less than pleased at the return of their former colonial overlords.
The Essential Essays, 1968–2002
James’s commentaries on 20th-century culture include reactions to WH Auden’s death, the media response to Germaine Greer’s writing and his thoughts on MGM musicals. This collection, originally published as As of This Writing, contains 49 essays, with postscripts penned in 2003 reflecting upon his earlier views.
Paging Through History
Although we live in an increasingly digital world, the simple technology of paper – which the Chinese consider the first of the ‘great inventions’ – remains vital. In this history of paper the author examines when and why it came into use in different cultures around the world and how it has played a role in the development not only of literacy, art and education but also of religion, media and commerce. Off-mint and American-cut pages
City of Light, City of Poison
Murder, Magic, and the First Police Chief of Paris
In 1667 the lawyer Nicolas de La Reynie was appointed by Louis XIV as the first lieutenant general of Paris, with far-reaching powers to combat the city’s filth, violence and organized crime. Based on court transcripts and La Reynie’s extensive notes, this account of his work describes not only projects for installing street lighting and cleaning pavements but also his shocking discovery of a cabal of poisoners, witches and renegade priests whose malign influence reached deep into the Sun King’s court.
A Christmas Carol
The Original Manuscript Edition
The tale of Ebenezer Scrooge, the 'squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner', Marley's ghost and poor Tiny Tim has been a bestseller since it was hurriedly published in time for Christmas in 1843. This very fine edition presents a photographic facsimile of Dickens’s manuscript, now in the Morgan Library & Museum in New York, with a transcription facing each handwritten page, an introduction to the history of A Christmas Carol by Declan Kiely and a foreword by Colm Tóibín.
The Brontë Cabinet
Three Lives in Nine Objects
A series of everyday objects preserved at the Brontë parsonage in Haworth provides the entry-point for this exploration of the sisters’ lives and writing. The tiny notebooks in which they inscribed their juvenile literary efforts; their sewing box; the walking sticks they used when striding the moors; Charlotte’s portable desk, her passionate letters to her married lover, and the bracelet containing locks of Emily and Anne’s hair, testimony to her grief after her sisters’ deaths. Off-mint.
A Human History from Hannibal to Heidi and Beyond
Stephen O’Shea overcomes his fear of heights to crest the high Alpine passes and explore the history of the ‘fearsome, gargantuan intrusion of stone inconveniently located not at the edge but square in the middle of Europe’. Travelling west to east, from Lake Geneva to Trieste, he tells the stories of the armies, Crusaders, pilgrims and traders who have crossed the mountains; how the Alps inspired the Romantics, mountaineers and engineers; and how its 1,599 peaks have divided Europe’s languages, cuisine, culture, religion and history.
The Reluctant Rebel
The author of Gulliver’s Travels was a man of complex character – a libertarian struggling with conservative beliefs, a church minister with complicated personal relationships, and a satirist who scorned the world yet sought to improve it. This biography follows his flight from war-torn Ireland in 1688 to the splendour and squalor of London, examining his shifting political allegiances and complicated love life to identify the roots of the ‘savage indignation’ that drove him.
The Encyclopedia of Yacht Designers
From Bjarne Aas (1886–1969), the great Norwegian designer of International Rule boats, to Douglas Zurn (b.1963), whose 2003 high-tech, Kevlar-epoxy 34z set new speed and fuel efficiency standards, the Encyclopedia presents an A–Z of some 500 yacht designers, illustrated with over 600 photographs and drawings of their most notable boats.
Inside the Machine
Art and Invention in the Electronic Age
In the early twentieth century the electronics industry employed fine artists to create advertising material explaining rapid technological advancements to the general public. The resulting artwork tracks the development of new components, including valves, transistors and circuit boards, from ‘laboratory to tabletop’. Slightly off-mint.
A History of the Written Word
‘There is a favoured metaphor for writing’s tangled skein of overlapping figurations: the palimpsest.’ In this history, Matthew Battles reflects on the reasons for writing, its origins and how it is shaped by human peculiarities; and he attempts to untangle the threads of its history, from primitive marks, through cuneiform, Chinese characters, Holy writ and movable type to digital display.
The Human Age
The World Shaped By Us
Diane Ackerman may rue the destruction of the natural world, yet she is thrilled by human ingenuity and here contemplates nascent technologies – including those for body heat recycling, 3D-printed human tissue and carbon capture – that may yet save our planet and our species. Slightly off-mint.
An Artistic Vision
Beethoven’s compositional sketchbooks preserve his incipient and laconic ideas for many symphonic movements, some of which grew into the nine completed works. Presenting a movement-by-movement analysis, Professor Lockwood uses evidence from these documents to trace the symphonies’ historical, biographical and creative origins. He reveals how they evolved slowly in Beethoven’s mind – the earliest ideas for the Fifth and Sixth appear with sketches for the Third – and how they relate to major compositions in other genres.
The Invention of the Modern Mind
This wide-ranging account of how Enlightenment philosophers developed a concept of mind explores the intellectual ground covered by English, Scottish, French and German thinkers, including the notion of the mind existing solely within, and nurtured by, the body. The author also demonstrates, with reference to Foucault, how these ideas led to mind sciences, including phrenology and psychology, and why in our own times consensus on the nature of the mind has yet to be achieved.
Evolution in a Man-Made World
‘The Pekingese is a tinkered wolf, not redesigned wholesale from its wolf ancestors.’ This study examines recent developments in evolutionary biology through the lens of domestication. The rapid physical and behavioural changes which, through centuries of breeding, have been wrought on pets and farm animals, allow us to see evolutionary processes accelerated, and therefore, Francis argues, to understand them better; particularly their conservative nature, a notion espoused by the fields of genomics and evolutionary developmental biology, which feature prominently here. Slightly off-mint.
The Discovery of Middle Earth
Mapping the Lost World of the Celts
It was while planning a cycling expedition along the Via Heraklea, the legendary route of Hercules from the western tip of the Iberian Peninsula to the Alps, that Graham Robb discovered a precise pattern of towns and holy places based on astronomical and geometrical measurements: the three-dimensional 'Middle Earth' of the Celts. This volume describes his historical treasure hunt, revealing the lasting influence of the Druids, and looking afresh at the 'protohistory' of Europe.
The People and the Books
18 Classics of Jewish Literature
Jews have long embraced their identity as a ‘people of the book’, but outside the Bible, much Jewish writing remains unknown. This wide-ranging survey examines 18 classic texts, from Deuteronomy to the 20th century. From the writings of Moses Maimonides, Baruch Spinoza and his contemporary, the 17th-century businesswoman Glückel of Hamelin, the Zionist Theodore Herzl and others, Kirsch draws out the enduring themes of Jewish literature: the nature of God, the Promised Land, and the challenges of diaspora life.
In Search of Sir Thomas Browne
The Life and Afterlife of the Seventeenth Century's Most Inquiring Mind
The major work of Sir Thomas Browne (1605–1682) is the Pseudodoxia Epidemica (1646), a catalogue of ‘vulgar errors’ and their correction which, together with Urne-Buriall and The Garden of Cyrus, has charmed writers from Samuel Johnson to Jorge Luis Borges and Javier Marías. Here, another acolyte sets off in the footsteps of the erudite, witty and good-humoured Browne to rediscover his life and work through its diversity of themes, from medicine and human longevity to faith and melancholy. American-cut pages.
World in the Balance
The Historic Quest for an Absolute System of Measurement
Every day we need reliable ways of measuring length, weight and time. For most of human history these were based on creatively improvised local standards, such as the ancient Chinese connection between length and musical pitch. This book, by the philosopher who writes a regular Physics World column, tells little-known stories behind the world’s diverse measures and shows how they were gradually consolidated into a universal system, and how scientists are creating the first absolute system based on physical constants.
Strong as Death is Love
The Song of Songs, Ruth, Esther, Jonah, and Daniel
As distant in time from the Pentateuch of Moses as Updike is from Shakespeare, these later books of the Old Testament are innovative and entertaining works of literature, in which women are often centre stage. The Song of Songs is a sensuous celebration of young love, Queen Esther’s shrewd triumph is a sly sexual comedy, while the story of Ruth celebrates loyalty, charity and love. Robert Alter’s award-winning translation from the Hebrew captures all their freshness and immediacy.
Guide to Britain's Working Past
The impact of the industrial revolution on Britain is unmistakable in the form of bridges, factories, railways and canals, but evidence of industry goes back further to mills, mines and forges of the medieval period. This regional guide to key industrial sites around Britain includes the most significant transport and industrial museums as well as factories, potteries, mills and mines. Entries include information on location, admission prices and opening hours.
Mad Mary Lamb
Lunacy and Murder in Literary London
One night in 1796, Mary Lamb killed her mother. Confined in various madhouses, she discovered a gift for writing, collaborating on the bestselling Tales from Shakespeare with her essayist brother Charles. This authoritative biography tells a story of madness, forgiveness and the redemptive power of the written word.
The Search for Life That Is Very, Very Different from Our Own
During the 1980s scientists began discovering life in places where no one thought it would be possible – rock-eating fungi, bacteria living in boiling water at volcanic hydrothermal vents, or in hot sulphur springs. How far the limits of life extend became the subject of research; here, Toomey explains the complex science of this biological avant-garde in lively, layman’s language and covers topics ranging from the sulphur-loving ‘extremophiles’ to the possibility of intelligent weird life.
Henry VIII, James IV and the Battle for Renaissance Britain
The decisive battle at Flodden Field in 1513 marked the climax of the personal and political tension between England’s Henry VIII and his brother-in-law James IV of Scotland. This book traces the origins and escalation of their rivalry, with analysis of the political and military manoeuvres leading up to Flodden. It ends with an account of the battle itself, which saw the first artillery exchange on a British battlefield, and an assessment of James’s level of responsibility for Scotland’s defeat.
His Life, Thought, and Work
Marlon Brando (1924–2004) is remembered for his charismatic screen presence, rugged good looks and rebellious stance. Drawing on unpublished documents, letters, the actor's own library and interviews with friends and colleagues, this major biography presents a very different portrait of the fascinating private man: a civil-rights activist and intellectual who collected 4,000 books, rewrote scripts to sharpen his dialogue, loved the poetry of Emily Dickinson, and embraced other cultures and let them shape both his politics and his art.
Flight from the Reich
Refugee Jews, 1933–1946
Six million European Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, but three million managed to escape death by fleeing, hiding or simply enduring. From victims of the early discriminations to perilous escapes during the height of the persecution and the resettlement of concentration camp survivors, this book pieces together official documents and personal accounts to examine the experience of Jewish refugees forced to flee to neighbouring countries, to Palestine, to America and ultimately to all corners of the world.
Mozart at the Gateway to His Fortune
Serving the Emperor, 1788-1791
In December 1787 Mozart was appointed to a post in the Viennese court, which he anticipated would lead to a long and successful career. But his premature death four years later amid severe financial troubles has led scholars to seek signs of decline and autumnal writing in his later works. Wolff reassesses the outpouring of ambitious, innovative compositions during these final years, using both Mozart's letters and analysis of his music to show that he was actually making an energetic fresh beginning.
Paris to the Past
Traveling Through French History by Train
This characterful guide takes the reader on a journey through French history via 25 train outings from Paris. An expedition to the great Gothic cathedrals of Reims and Chartres brings to life the scheming Abbot Suger; a day-trip to the château of Blois evokes the splendours of the Renaissance; and an excursion to Versailles recalls the shining glory of the Sun King. Engaging and informative, the book also features helpful tips on hotels and bistros. American-cut pages.
Now All Roads Lead to France
The Last Years of Edward Thomas
A close friend of Robert Frost, the troubled English writer Edward Thomas (b.1878) became a poet in 1914 thanks to his encouragement, and after the outbreak of the First World War almost emigrated to New England to join him. Instead, partly inspired by Frost's The Road Not Taken, Thomas enlisted and died in 1917 at the Battle of Arras. This award-winning biography explores the final five years of his life, which he lost so soon after finding his vocation.
Between the wars Pierre Yves Petit, known professionally as Yvon, produced some of the most hauntingly evocative photographs of Paris ever created. Shunning the bright light of noon, he captured the quais, the alleys, the bookstalls and the down-and-outs beneath the looming bulk of Notre Dame in the mist of dawn or dusk. Originally printed as postcards, more than 60 of these images are reproduced here at the scale and in the detail they deserve.
The Anti-Communist Manifestos
Four Books that Shaped the Cold War
In four substantial essays, Fleming discusses four books that had a significant influence on public opinion on Communism in post-war America and, to a lesser extent, France. The essays cover both the books' arguments and the remarkable – if not always admirable – careers of their authors: they are Arthur Koestler's Darkness at Noon (1940); Out of the Night (1941) by Richard Krebs aka Jan Valtin; Victor Kravchenko's I Chose Freedom (1946); and Witness (1952) by Whittaker Chambers.
The Poems of Jesus Christ
'Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow.' Jesus Christ is the great invisible poet of the world. Embedded in the Gospels are sayings and parables of lyric intensity: austere, vivid and poignant, and rich in garden, nature and animal imagery. Barnstone's translations, excerpted from his Restored New Testament (2009), strip away the trappings of prose to reveal the consummate poetic drama of the Gospel of Jesus in all its wonder and majesty. American-cut pages.