Inside the Machine
Art and Invention in the Electronic Age
This survey of commercial art and design created by the electronics industry between 1917 and 1965 to promote its products, traces 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 Georgian Star
How William and Caroline Herschel Revolutionized Our Understanding of the Cosmos
After a successful career as a musician, William Herschel (1738–1822) turned to astronomy, discovered the planet Uranus and, with royal patronage, constructed the largest telescopes in the world. This double portrait of William and his sister Caroline reveals how the siblings pioneered techniques still in use today as they produced the first comprehensive catalogue of every visible object in the night sky.
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.
The Line Upon a Wind
The Great War at Sea, 1793–1815
Rockets, torpedoes and submarines were among the innovations in weapons technology first deployed during the 22 years of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. This narrative history ranges from the Mediterranean to the West Indies, Egypt to Scandinavia, following Napoleon's great struggle against Nelson and the other extraordinary characters who adapted their abilities to the strategic and tactical demands of a new age of naval warfare.
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 over 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.
In Love and War
The Churchill family leapt to prominence with the military victories of the first Duke of Marlborough in the 1700s, and has remained at the fulcrum of the nation's affairs ever since. Epic in its sweep, this family history charts their political triumphs and domestic tragedies over the centuries, culminating in the career of the greatest of them all, Winston Spencer Churchill. Both magisterial and intimate, Lovell's book brings to life this eccentric, ambitious, and impulsive tribe.
The Great Big Book of Horrible Things
The Definitive Chronicle of History's 100 Worst Atrocities
Was the 20th century really the most violent? Have religions or tyrants, capitalism or communism, caused the most suffering? Meticulously researched yet suffused with dark hilarity, this sobering chronicle spans two millennia of human conflict and 100 of its worst atrocities, from Alexander the Great to Saddam Hussein. Built from startling facts and appalling statistics, it starkly illustrates Gibbon's assertion that history is 'little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortunes of mankind'.
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.