A History of the World in 100 Objects - Neil MacGregor

Can’t get to the British Museum right now? Never mind—let it come to you, in the extraordinary sampling of its collections that is A History of the World in 100 Objects (Viking, $45). First presented as a BBC Radio 4 series, the book has been curated by a team of experts headed by Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum. Chronicling material culture from a circa-240 BC Egyptian wooden mummy case to a solar-powered lamp made in China last year, this volume showcases the astounding variety of things humans have created. Here are mosaics and mirrors, ivory labels and gold capes, the Rosetta Stone and Hokusai’s The Great Wave. Arranged chronologically in twenty sections from the Olduvai Gorge era on, the volume presents each of the hundred objects in a full-color photograph accompanied by commentary describing the item’s role in its original culture as well as the significance it has gained in later ones. Most important, unlike conventional text-based histories—the ones written by the victors—this one is drawn from tangible relics and strives to convey what peoples lacking written records made of their experiences.

A History of the World in 100 Objects By Neil MacGregor Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143124153
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - September 24th, 2013

Brilliant - Jane Brox

Jane Brox’s Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light (Mariner, $15.95) is fascinating and compulsively readable. Brilliant is saturated with research and amazing facts about the subject, but, even more, it explains the reciprocal relationship between science and society. From the stone lamps that facilitated our first cave paintings to an overabundance of modern light that impedes our observation of the stars, Brox takes us step by step through our own history, and how our mastery of light has shaped who we are.

Brilliant: The Evolution of Artificial Light By Jane Brox Cover Image
ISBN: 9780547520346
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - July 7th, 2011

The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance - Edmund de Waal

The Hare With Amber Eyes (Picador, $16) was one of 264 Japanese netsuke Edmund de Waal inherited in 1994. Feeling “a responsibility to them and to the people who had owned them,” de Waal set out to tell the stories of these figures and of the remarkable Ephrussis. His family memoir follows the netsuke from 1871, when Charles Ephrussi (a model for Proust’s Charles Swann) purchased them in Paris during a wave of japonisme. The collection next went to the Vienna branch of the family, gracing a dressing room in the Palais Ephrussi on the Ringstrasse. Barely surviving the First World War, the banking dynasty was shattered by the Second. The netsuke disappeared. Then resurfaced after the War, emigrating with de Waal’s grandmother to England. De Waal is a ceramicist, concerned with how things feel; he has endowed his narrative with the heft and texture of objects, conveying both the fine detail of the lives and the tremendous sweep of the times. His evocation of the Anschluss, for instance, is a pulse-quickening, heart-breaking account of events, told as family history.

The Hare with Amber Eyes: A Hidden Inheritance By Edmund de Waal Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312569372
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Picador - August 2nd, 2011