Book choice for November 2012

A Little History of the World [suggested by Bev Chong]

A Little History of the World

In 1935, with a doctorate in art history and no prospect of a job, the 26-year-old Ernst Gombrich was invited to attempt a history of the world for younger readers. Amazingly, he completed the task in an intense six weeks, and Eine kurze Weltgeschichte für junge Leser was published in Vienna to immediate success, and is now available in twenty-five languages across the world. Toward the end of his long life, Gombrich embarked upon a revision and, at last, an English translation. A Little History of the World presents his lively and involving history to English-language readers for the first time. Superbly designed and freshly illustrated, this is a book to be savoured and collected. In forty concise chapters, Gombrich tells the story of man from the stone age to the atomic bomb. In between emerges a colourful picture of wars and conquests, grand works of art, and the spread and limitations of science. This is a text dominated not by dates and facts, but by the sweep of mankind's experience across the centuries, a guide to humanity's achievements and an acute witness to its frailties. The product of a generous and humane sensibility, this timeless account makes intelligible the full span of human history. [product description from Amazon]

There's also a Wikipedia page.

About the Author

Wikipedia page.
The Gombrich Archive (starts with a short biog)

 

Shortlisted for this month

Book selectors can bring one, two or three books for selection, although it's usual to bring three. This month Bev's other selections were:

The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick

The Rise of the Indian Rope Trick

We assume that the Indian rope trick is a piece of ancient Hindu magic. But think again: it is actually the product of a hoax which appeared in the Chicago Tribune in 1890. This wonderfully researched, playfully written book takes us on a journey through Victorian society where we discover the interest in magic of Charles Dickens; Alfred Russell Wallace; Edward, Prince of Wales; Lord Northbrook and Charles Darwin. We learn how in an age of reason the British came to love all things Oriental and how the legend of the rope trick came to be perpetuated throughout the 20th century as fanatical public figures and aristocrats went to India in search of it and returned claiming to have seen it being performed. This is a charming history book filled with colourful characters, known and unknown, all of whom pursued an obsession. Some were respected members of society, some were incredibly eccentric and utterly deluded. It is set against the background of Victorian society and shows how the writing of history itself can perpetuate myths and legends. [Product description from Amazon]

About the Author

Wikipedia page (stub only).
Lamont's home page at the Department of Psychology; University of Edinburgh.

The Penelopiad

The Penelopiad

For Penelope, wife of Odysseus, maintaining a kingdom while her husband was off fighting the Trojan war was not a simple business. Already aggrieved that he had been lured away due to the shocking behaviour of her beautiful cousin Helen, Penelope must bring up her wayward son, face down scandalous rumours and keep over a hundred lustful, greedy and bloodthirsty suitors at bay...And then, when Odysseus finally returns and slaughters the murderous suitors, he brutally hangs Penelope's twelve beloved maids. What were his motives? And what was Penelope really up to? Critically acclaimed when it was first published as part of Canongate's "Myth" series, and following a very successful adaptation by the RSC, this new edition of "The Penelopiad" sees Margaret Atwood give Penelope a modern and witty voice to tell her side of the story, and set the record straight for good. [product description on Amazon]

The book has its own Wikipedia page.

About the Author

Wikipedia entry.
Author's website.

 

Previous Months' Book Choices

2012

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2011

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2010

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2009

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2008

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2007

January February March April May June July August September October November

2006

January February March April May June July August September October November