Friday 11 July 2014

Compass Points 92

What do you think were the five most crucial inventions or discoveries ever? Well, I’m daresay this is when many of us immediately begin lovingly caressing our iphones – but try to think a bit further back than that.  My nomination would probably have to be the printing press and would certainly NOT be the Kindle.  Invention and Discovery by Claire Hawcock (978 1782120964, full colour hb, £14.99) is a fascinating step back in time to look at five extraordinary and illuminating subjects: Leonardo da Vinci's design for a temple; Copernicus' view of the Solar System; a Roman ballista (catapult); Watt's beam engine; and yes, Gutenberg's printing press. But what is really great about this wonderfully designed book is that it also contains three-dimensional models of each of these historic inventions and discoveries, which readers can assemble for themselves! The models are beautifully designed and easy-to-make, and the book contains large gate-folded spreads containing extra information about the history of the model and full model assemble instructions. There are also spreads covering subjects such as building and architecture; hunting and fighting; agriculture to industry; writing and printing; and exploration. Invention and Discovery has been meticulously designed to replicate the feel of a long-lost journal and is published by Arcturus in September.

And talking of Leonardo da Vinci – I really love this beautiful two minute medley of Women in Art – including of course the Mona Lisa.

But what about the least crucial inventions ever? Have a look here to see the top 20 most pointless!

Could there be any more sport on TV than there is at present? With all the footie, motor racing tennis, cycling and so on filling the airwaves this is a good moment to tell you about a fab sporting tome coming from English Heritage . Played in London: Charting the Heritage of a City at Play by Simon Inglis (978 1848020573, pb £25) reveals the history of sport in London and takes the reader right up to and beyond the 2012 Olympics. This is a really terrific book which covers a vast range of sports from rowing to rugby, archery to athletics, billiards to boxing and much more. It is beautifully illustrated with archive and contemporary photography, maps and manuscripts. From its first century Roman amphitheatre to the 21st century Olympic Stadium at Stratford, London has always been a city of spectacles and sporting fever. In the 12th century crowds would gather at Smithfield to watch horse racing and ball games. In Tudor times they flocked to the tiltyards of Whitehall and Westminster to enjoy jousting, while in the 17th century the Stuarts were keen exponents of a game with the familiar name of Pall Mall. At Hampton Court the world’s oldest covered tennis court, completed in 1625, remains in daily use. Every July on the Thames there takes place the world’s oldest rowing race, initiated in 1715, while the crack of leather on willow may still be heard at the Artillery Ground in Finsbury, where cricket has been played since the 1720s. From more recent times Wembley, Wimbledon, Twickenham, Lord’s and the Oval are known around the world; and as the first city to have hosted three Olympic Games, London has also led the way in the development of athletics, boxing and gymnastics. In the 20th century, greyhound and speedway racing, and even darts, once a fairground favourite, now is now contested in front of massive crowds at one of the capital’s latest coliseums, the O2 Arena at Greenwich. Anyone with even a passing interest in sport or social history will love this book – I really think it could be one of your big sellers for the Autumn, and there is sure to be mega media interest.
Played in London is published in September by English Heritage and you can find out more and order it here.

And if you’d like to see some great pics of all the different ways that Argentinians can look happy, click here!

Who’s a Leonard Cohen fan? Well if you are you’ll no doubt be aware that his 80th birthday is on 21 September 2014, which will no doubt attract much media attention. Leonard Cohen: An Illustrated Record (978 0859655194 £14.99, pb) is a 160 page, richly illustrated tribute coming out this month. This is the first complete guide to his studio and live albums – from his debut, Songs of Leonard Cohen (1967), to his most recent record, Old Ideas (2012).  It is a comprehensive (160 page) and richly illustrated guide to all of Cohen’s studio and live albums, featuring original artwork and rare photographs. Cohen is a legend in his own lifetime; for more than four decades, his mournful ballads of desire, heartbreak and lost faith have captivated audiences the world over. Now more popular than ever, the award-winning Canadian songwriter, novelist and poet is revered as a cultural icon and master of his craft. His 2012-2013 sell-out world tour included over 45 dates in the US and Canada alone and he has sold more than 21 million records worldwide over the course of his four-decade career. This beautifully designed retrospective will no doubt prove irresistible to his notoriously devoted fans and it is published this month by Plexus.

And here is the gravelly voiced one, performing perhaps his most famous song; Hallelujah.

Lots of good publicity coming in for Quadrophenia by Simon Wells (978 0957078345 £9.99, pb) which has just been published. Author Simon Wells was on the Lorraine Kelly Breakfast show on ITV promoting it, and has also been on Radio 6 Music, and the Robert Elms show on BBC Radio London. Watch this great video here on YouTube to see Simon chatting about the book at its launch. Quadrophenia: A Way of LIfe is the first ever comprehensive look at this film on its 35th anniversary. It explores the making of this timepiece of a generation, and its subsequent influence on popular culture. It is the definitive account of Britain’s greatest youth movie, with loads of great photos from the film – plus unseen shots, and has the full backing of The Who management. The Who are touring this summer and tickets for The Who Hits 50 UK Tour (which Pete Townshend describes as ‘Hits, Picks, Mixes and Misses’) are selling like crazy – this band is as popular as ever. Quadrophenia is being promoted on the band’s official Facebook page, which has over 5 million followers. The whole scooters/Mods/60s thing is still very much in vogue, and this book is appealing both to those who were young – and those who still are! Quadrophenia: A ay of Life: Inside the Making of Britain’s Greatest Youth Film  is published by Countdown and you can find out more and order it here.

Dame Paula Rego (b. 1935) is probably the best-known and best-loved female artist in Britain today. She was born in 1935 in Lisbon, Portugal and studied at the Slade School of Art in London and was shortlisted for the Turner prize in 1989 and awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters by Oxford University in 2005. If you are unfamiliar with her vibrant and instantly recognisable style, you can watch a six minute film showing many of her paintings here on You Tube. Published in September, Stone Soup is in many ways an art book, containing thirteen richly coloured watercolours from this celebrated Portuguese artist. It is also a children’s book; a new version of the traditional Portuguese folk tale retold by Cas Willing: a fable of how starving travellers manage to persuade suspicious townspeople to supply them with food for their mysterious Stone Soup. With the macabre tenor and dark humour that has made Rego’s reputation, the story and these thirteen illustrations will appeal to adults and children alike.  The publication of the book will accompany an exhibition of Paula Rego’s new prints and drawings and a major feature is planned by the Sunday Times to coincide with its publication. Stone Soup by Cas Willing and Paula Rego (:9781910392010, £15, hb) is published by Enitharmon and you can find out more and order it here.

Klop: Britain’s Most Ingenious Spy by Peter Day is; as the Sunday Times said recently; “a vivid, richly researched and highly entertaining portrait of this most colourful of 20th-century spooks.”  Klop Ustinov was Britain’s most ingenious secret agent, but he wasn’t authorised to kill. Instead, he was authorised to tell tall tales, bemusing and beguiling his enemies into revealing their deepest, darkest secrets. From the Russian Revolution to the Cold War, he bluffed and tricked his way into the confidence of everyone from Soviet commissars to Gestapo Gruppenführer. In Klop: Britain’s Most Ingenious Secret Agent, journalist Peter Day brings to life a man descended from Russian aristocrats and Ethiopian princesses but who fancied himself the perfect Englishman. His codename was U35 but his better-known nickname ‘Klop’ meant ‘bedbug’, a name given to him by a very understanding wife on account of his extraordinary capacity to hop from one woman’s bed to another in the service of the King. Frequenting the social gatherings of Europe in the guise of innocent bon viveur, he displayed a showman’s talent for entertaining (a trait his son, the actor Peter Ustinov, undoubtedly inherited), holding a captive audience and all the while scavenging secrets from his unsuspecting companions. Klop was masterful at gathering truth by telling a story; this is his. Klop: Britain’s Most Ingenious Spy (978 1849546935, hb £20.00) has just been published by Biteback, and is getting great reviews – there was a terrific one in the Times this week.

Of course I cannot possibly let a mention of British spies go by without referencing either 007 or Spooks – so here’s the delicious Rupert Penry Jones’ best moments as tip top agent Adam Carter - enjoy!

That’s all for now folks, more next week!

This blog is read weekly by over 700 booksellers as well as publishers and publicists. If you would like to order any of the titles mentioned, then please click here to go to the Compass New Titles Website or talk to your Compass Sales representative.

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