When Cleopatra took the throne of the kingdom of Egypt, the pyramids and Sphinx were already ancient wonders. As queen she faced conquest by a new, all-powerful empire. A Ptolemy, descended from a general of Alexander the Great who conquered the Nile as part of his Macedonian lands, her relationship with Mark Anthony has become one of the legendary love stories in history.
Trow draws on recent archaeological finds and fresh interpretations of ancient texts to separate truth from myth and set this incomparably beautiful queen in context.
The Jewish religion is one of the major faiths of the world yet one of the least understood. In a wide-ranging and accessible guide for the general reader Rabbi Naftali Brawer outlines the major themes and history of over 5,000 years of Jewish faith from its Abrahamic origins and the foundations of Jerusalem to the eras of exile, diaspora, and persecution. From ritual and practise to faith and politics, the theology and history of Judaism are bound together.
Brawer argues that Judaism is poised between heaven and earth. On the one hand it calls on its adherents to transcend the material world through ritual and prayer: on the other hand Judaism positively celebrates joys of food, family and society. Through this seeming paradox, Brawer explores the nature and characteristics of faith – God and Man, Torah, Mitzvah, the Jewish People and the Land of Israel. He also shows how ritual and practise punctuate Jewish existence, from daily prayers to the rites of passage that chart a lifetime.
Charles Darwin has become one of the most important men in history. The quiet, unsure polymath who avoided confrontation, ensconced in his family home at Down House in Kent, was also a revolutionary who developed his idea of Natural Selection in isolation. Cyril Aydon’s short biography is considered one of the best introductions to the life and ideas of Darwin.
With Darwin’s legacy still in contention and the forthcoming anniversary of the publication of The Origins Species, Aydon’s book is a perfect guide to the ideas as well as the man who was recently voted one of the greatest Britons of all time, and certainly one of the most influential thinkers ever.
‘Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the street to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.’ Douglas Adams, Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
We human beings have trouble with infinity – yet infinity is a surprisingly human subject. Philosophers and mathematicians have gone mad contemplating its nature and complexity – yet it is a concept routinely used by schoolchildren. Exploring the infinite is a journey into paradox. Here is a quantity that turns arithmetic on its head, making it feasible that 1 = 0. Here is a concept that enables us to cram as many extra guests as we like into an already full hotel. Most bizarrely of all, it is quite easy to show that there must be something bigger than infinity – when it surely should be the biggest thing that could possibly be.
Brian Clegg takes us on a fascinating tour of that borderland between the extremely large and the ultimate that takes us from Archimedes, counting the grains of sand that would fill the universe, to the latest theories on the physical reality of the infinite. Full of unexpected delights, whether St Augustine contemplating the nature of creation, Newton and Leibniz battling over ownership of calculus, or Cantor struggling to publicise his vision of the transfinite, infinity’s fascination is in the way it brings together the everyday and the extraordinary, prosaic daily life and the esoteric.
Whether your interest in infinity is mathematical, philosophical, spiritual or just plain curious, this accessible book offers a stimulating and entertaining read.
In this colourful new history of Venice, Elizabeth Horodowich, one of the leading experts on Venice, tells the story of the place from its ancient origins, and its early days as a multicultural trading city where Christians, Jews and Muslims lived together at the crossroads between East and West. She explores the often overlooked role of Venice, alongside Florence and Rome, as one of the principal Renaissance capitals.
Now, as the resident population falls and the number of tourists grows, as brash new advertisements disfigure the ancient buildings, she looks at the threat from the rising water level and the future of one of the great wonders of the world.
From the arrival of Henry Tudor and his army, at Milford in 1485, to the death of the great Queen Elizabeth I in 1603, this was an astonishingly eventful and contradictory age. All the strands of Tudor life are gathered in a rich tapestry – London and the country, costumes, furniture and food, travel, medicine, sports and pastimes, grand tournaments and the great flowering of English drama, juxtaposed with the stultifying narrowness of peasant life, terrible roads, a vast underclass, the harsh treatment of heretics and traitors, and the misery of the Plague.
The book leads the reader through these vibrant stories, from the origins of the gods through to the homecomings of the Trojan heroes. All the familiar narratives are here, along with some less familiar characters and motifs. In addition to the tales, the book explains key issues arising from the narratives, and discusses the myths and their wider relevance.
This long-overdue book crystallises three key areas of interest: the nature of the tales; the stories themselves; and how they have and might be interpreted. For the first time, it brings together aspects of Greek mythology only usually available in disparate forms – namely children’s books and academic works. There will be much here that is interesting, surprising, and strange as well as familiar. Experts and non-experts, adults, students and schoolchildren alike will gain entertainment and insight from this fascinating and important volume.
The story of Christianity is one of colossal undertakings and spectacular successes as well as ferocious intolerance, greed and bloodshed. Bamber Gascoigne traces a clear path through a complicated history, exploring the motives, the passions, the fears and the achievements of the Christians. His approach is objective and he writes in a conversational style, focusing on moments of significant detail and a vast and varied cast of characters.
Henry VIII changed the course of English life more completely than any monarch since the Conquest. In the portraits of Holbein, Henry Tudor stands proud as one of the most powerful figures in renaissance Europe. But is the portrait just a bluff?
In his brilliant new history of the life of Henry VIII, Derek Wilson explores the myths behind the image of the Tudor Lion. He was the monarch that delivered the Reformation to England yet Luther called him ‘A fool, a liar and a damnable rotten worm’. As a young man he gained a reputation as an intellectual and fair prince yet he ruled the nation like a tyrant. He treated his subjects as cruelly as he treated his wives.
Based on a wealth of new material and a lifetime’s knowledge of the subject Derek Wilson exposes a new portrait of a much misunderstood King.
PRAISE FOR DEREK WILSON’S PREVIOUS WORKS:
The Uncrowned Kings of England:
‘Stimulating and authorative’ – John Guy
‘Masterly. [Wilson] has a deep understanding of . . . characters, reaching out accross the centuries’ – Sunday Times
Hans Holbein: Portrait of an Unknown Man:
‘Fascinating’ Sarah Bradford, Daily Telegraph
‘Highly readable . . . The most accurate and vivid portrayal to date’ Alison Weir
Using wide-ranging evidence, Martyn Whittock shines a light on Britain in the Middle Ages, bringing it vividly to life in this fascinating new portrait that brings together the everyday and the extraordinary.
Thus we glimpse 11th-century rural society through a conversation between a ploughman and his master.
The life of Dick Whittington illuminates the rise of the urban elite. The stories of Roger ‘the Raker’ who drowned in his own sewage, a ‘merman’ imprisoned in Orford Castle and the sufferings of the Jews of Bristol reveal the extraordinary diversity of medieval society.
Through these characters and events – and using the latest discoveries and research – the dynamic and engaging panorama of medieval England is revealed.
Who was Robin Hood? Throughout history the figures of the hooded man of Sherwood forest and his band of outlaws have transfixed readers and viewers; but where does the myth come from? The story appeared out of the legend of the Green man but found its location during the reign of Richard II, the Lionheart, who was away from England fighting in the crusades. In his absence his brother John lay waste to the country. But does this tell the full story? Was Robin a bandit prince ahead of a troop of brigands? Who was the Sherrif and was he in fact the legitimate law in the land fighting vigilantes?
Starting AD 400 (around the time of their invasion of England) and running through to the 1100s (the ‘Aftermath’), historian Geoffrey Hindley shows the Anglo-Saxons as formative in the history not only of England but also of Europe.
The society inspired by the warrior world of the Old English poem Beowulf saw England become the world’s first nation state and Europe’s first country to conduct affairs in its own language, and Bede and Boniface of Wessex establish the dating convention we still use today. Including all the latest research, this is a fascinating assessment of a vital historical period.