Shakespeare’s Juliet famously asks, “What’s in a name?” Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, asks what some twenty objects can tell us about the manners and mores of Shakespeare’s Restless World (Viking, $36). Ranging from a communion goblet to a silver medallion to a peddler’s trunk of miscellaneous fabrics, these artifacts offer a trove of illuminating details about Elizabethan history, politics, and culture. In a simple wool cap, MacGregor finds an icon of social stability. A nine-inch, two-prong iron fork recovered at the Rose Theater showed its owner’s continental savvy as well as the importance of concessions to a playhouse’s bottom line. Similarly, MacGregor reads a history of imperial and otherworldly powers in an obsidian “mirror” that belonged to the Aztecs before it was John Dee’s, and notices personal security issues in the rapier and dagger that were standard accessories for young men going out on the town. As he did so brilliantly in A History of the World in 100 Objects, MacGregor lets material culture tell us how much of the past we haven’t lost.

Shakespeare's Restless World: A Portrait of an Era in Twenty Objects Cover Image
ISBN: 9780670026340
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Viking Books - October 1st, 2013

Shakespeare's Restless World: Portrait of an Era Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9780143125945
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: Penguin Books - November 4th, 2014

Ancient Celtic culture didn’t go away when the Romans conquered Gaul in 50 B.C.—it only settled in more firmly, waiting to be noticed. Graham Robb, the intrepid cyclist behind The Discovery of France, noticed. His attention was caught by the way hill forts and other remnants of sites sacred to the pre-Roman tribes who populated Europe seemed to be aligned with the path of the solstice sun. Coincidence? Was he reading too much into the landscape? Robb set off along the Via Heraklea for a closer look at this “Druidic blueprint”; he reports his findings in The Discovery of Middle Earth (W.W. Norton, $28.95), a book of travels, history, and many “grand and rugged tales.” Blending—as the Celts did—science and myth, legend and solid geographical fact, Robb presents the hard and soft evidence to redeem the Celts from simplistic images as a pack of bloody and barbaric tree-worshippers (though, yes, Druid is derived from dru, meaning “oak”). Along with the evidence on the ground, irrefutable testimony to Celtic engineering and mathematical skills, Robb cites the Druids’ sophisticated communication and education systems and their remarkably accurate calculation of Pi. Delving as deeply into place names as into places, Robb revives the tradition of the Irish Dindsenchas, “the lore of place names”; fascinating in itself, this facet of the book also demonstrates the vitality of old practices.

The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts Cover Image
$28.95
ISBN: 9780393081633
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 4th, 2013

The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780393349924
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - November 3rd, 2014

The Irish Potato Famine took the lives of thousands, caused a mass migration, and fueled a revolution. But how did it happen? John Kelly's The Graves Are Walking explores the period of the famine, the savage political climate and the brutal racism, that made such an event possible. Kelly's writing is swift and aggressive as it analyses how science was leaping forward discoveries but not practice as bacteria allowed the British to nearly destroy a people. Kelly unflinchingly examines how the Irish/ British class has shaped our world and what events as devastating as this have done to our perception of being human.

The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People Cover Image
ISBN: 9780805091847
Availability: Out of Print in This Format
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - August 21st, 2012

The Graves Are Walking: The Great Famine and the Saga of the Irish People Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9781250032171
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - July 23rd, 2013

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