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 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
London Stratford, has always been a city of spectacles and
sporting fever. In the 12th century crowds would gather at London to watch horse
racing and ball games. In Tudor times they flocked to the tiltyards of Smithfield 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
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 . 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. Greenwich
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
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
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
this great video here on YouTube to see Simon chatting about the book
at its launch. Quadrophenia: London 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 ’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. Britain
Dame Paula Rego (b. 1935) is probably the best-known and best-loved female artist in
today. She was born in 1935
in Britain and
studied at the Slade School of Art in
Portugal London and was shortlisted for the Turner prize
in 1989 and awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters by 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. Oxford University
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 Britain 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: ’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. Britain
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!
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