Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured by Kathryn Harrison
Release Date: October 28, 2014
The profoundly inspiring and fully documented saga of Joan of Arc, the young peasant girl whose "voices" moved her to rally the French nation and a reluctant king against British invaders in 1428, has fascinated artistic figures as diverse as William Shakespeare, Mark Twain, Voltaire, George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht, Carl Dreyer, and Robert Bresson. Was she a divinely inspired saint? A schizophrenic? A demonically possessed heretic, as her persecutors and captors tried to prove?
Every era must retell and reimagine the Maid of Orleans's extraordinary story in its own way, and in Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured, the superb novelist and memoirist Kathryn Harrison gives us a Joan for our time—a shining exemplar of unshakable faith, extraordinary courage, and self-confidence during a brutally rigged ecclesiastical inquisition and in the face of her death by burning. Deftly weaving historical fact, myth, folklore, artistic representations, and centuries of scholarly and critical interpretation into a compelling narrative, she restores Joan of Arc to her rightful position as one of the greatest heroines in all of human history.
Severed by Frances Larson
UK Release Date: November 6, 2014
US Release Date: November 17, 2014
A serious and seriously entertaining exploration of the dark and varied obsessions that the “civilized West” has had with decapitated heads and skulls.
The human head is exceptional. It accommodates four of our five senses, encases the brain, and boasts the most expressive set of muscles in the body. It is our most distinctive attribute and connects our inner selves to the outer world. Yet there is a dark side to the head’s preeminence, one that has, in the course of human history, manifested itself in everything from decapitation to headhunting. So explains anthropologist Frances Larson in this fascinating history of decapitated human heads. From the Western collectors whose demand for shrunken heads spurred massacres to Second World War soldiers who sent the remains of the Japanese home to their girlfriends, from Madame Tussaud modeling the guillotined head of Robespierre to Damien Hirst photographing decapitated heads in city morgues, from grave-robbing phrenologists to skull-obsessed scientists, Larson explores our macabre fixation with severed heads.
The Cause of All Nations: An International History of the American Civil War by Don H. Doyle
Release Date: December 30, 2014
When Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, he realized that the Civil War had taken on a wider significance—that in Europe and Latin America people were watching to see whether the democratic experiment in “government by the people” would “perish from the earth.”
In The Cause of All Nations, distinguished historian Don H. Doyle explains that the Civil War was more than an internal American conflict; it was a struggle that spanned the Atlantic Ocean. This book follows the agents of the North and South who went abroad to tell the world what they were fighting for, and the foreign politicians, journalists, and intellectuals who told America and the world what they thought this war was really about—or ought to be about. Foreigners looked upon the American contest as an epic battle in a grand historic struggle that would decide the fate of democracy as well as slavery for generations to come.
The Amazons: Lives and Legends of Warrior Women across the Ancient World by Adrienne Mayor
Release Date: September 21, 2014
Amazons—fierce warrior women dwelling on the fringes of the known world—were the mythic archenemies of the ancient Greeks. Heracles and Achilles displayed their valor in duels with Amazon queens, and the Athenians reveled in their victory over a powerful Amazon army. In historical times, Cyrus of Persia, Alexander the Great, and the Roman general Pompey tangled with Amazons.
But just who were these bold barbarian archers on horseback who gloried in fighting, hunting, and sexual freedom? Were Amazons real? In this deeply researched, wide-ranging, and lavishly illustrated book, National Book Award finalist Adrienne Mayor presents the Amazons as they have never been seen before. This is the first comprehensive account of warrior women in myth and history across the ancient world, from the Mediterranean Sea to the Great Wall of China.
Mayor tells how amazing new archaeological discoveries of battle-scarred female skeletons buried with their weapons prove that women warriors were not merely figments of the Greek imagination. Combining classical myth and art, nomad traditions, and scientific archaeology, she reveals intimate, surprising details and original insights about the lives and legends of the women known as Amazons. Provocatively arguing that a timeless search for a balance between the sexes explains the allure of the Amazons, Mayor reminds us that there were as many Amazon love stories as there were war stories. The Greeks were not the only people enchanted by Amazons—Mayor shows that warlike women of nomadic cultures inspired exciting tales in ancient Egypt, Persia, India, Central Asia, and China.
Fashion in the Time of William Shakespeare: 1564-1616 by Sarah Downing
UK Release Date: September 10, 2014
US Release Date: October 7, 2014
Garments and accessories are prominent in almost all of William Shakespeares plays, from Hamlet and Othello to A Midsummer Nights Dream and Twelfth Night. The statement 'Clothes maketh the man was one that would have resonated with their audiences: the rise of England's merchant class had made issues of rank central to Elizabethan debate, and a rigid table of sumptuary laws carefully regulated the sorts of fabric and garment worn by the different classes. From the etiquette of courtly dress to the evolution of the Elizabethan ruff, in this vibrant introduction Sarah Jane Downing explores the sartorial world of the late-16th century, why people wore the clothes they did, and how the dizzyingly eclectic range of fashions (including ruffs, rebatos and French farthingales) transformed over time.