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October 2016

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Seasonal reading for Fall

    The Prague Cemetery

    The #1 international bestseller, from Umberto Eco, author of The Name of the Rose “Vintage Eco . . . the book is a triumph.” – New York Review of Books Nineteenth-century Europe—from Turin to Prague to Paris—abounds with the ghastly and the mysterious. Jesuits plot against Freemasons. Italian republicans strangle priests with their own intestines. French criminals plan bombings by day and celebrate Black Masses at night. Every nation has its own secret service, perpetrating forgeries, plots, and massacres. Conspiracies rule history. From the unification of Italy to the Paris Commune to the Dreyfus Affair to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Europe is in tumult and everyone needs a scapegoat. But what if, behind all of these conspiracies, both real and imagined, lay one lone man? “[Eco] demonstrates once again that his is a voice that compels our attention” – San Francisco Chronicle “Choreographed by a truth that is itself so strange a novelist need hardly expand on it to produce a wondrous tale . . . Eco is to be applauded for bringing this stranger-than-fiction truth vividly to life.” – New York Times “Classic Eco, with a difference.” – Los Angeles Times

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    The Penguin Book of the Undead

    Since ancient times, accounts of supernatural activity have mystified us. Ghost stories as we know them did not develop until the late nineteenth century, but the restless dead haunted the premodern imagination in many forms, as recorded in historical narratives, theological texts, and personal letters. The Penguin Book of the Undead teems with roving hordes of dead warriors, corpses trailed by packs of barking dogs, moaning phantoms haunting deserted ruins, evil spirits emerging from burning carcasses in the form of crows, and zombies with pestilential breath. Spanning from the Hebrew scriptures to the Roman Empire, the Scandinavian sagas to medieval Europe, the Protestant Reformation to the Renaissance, this beguiling array of accounts charts our relationship with spirits and apparitions, wraiths and demons over fifteen hundred years, showing the evolution in our thinking about theability of dead souls to return to the realm of the living--and to warn us about what awaits us in the afterlife.

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    The History of White People

    Telling perhaps the most important forgotten story in American history, eminent historian Nell Irvin Painter guides us through more than two thousand years of Western civilization, illuminating not only the invention of race but also the frequent praise of "whiteness" for economic, scientific, and political ends. A story filled with towering historical figures, The History of White People closes a huge gap in literature that has long focused on the non-white and forcefully reminds us that the concept of "race" is an all-too-human invention whose meaning, importance, and reality have changed as it has been driven by a long and rich history of events.

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    Pox

    From Beethoven to Oscar Wilde, from Van Gogh to Hitler, Deborah Hayden throws new light on the effects of syphilis on the lives and works of seminal figures from the fifteenth to the twentieth centuries.Writing with remarkable insight and narrative flair, Hayden argues that biographers and historians have vastly underestimated the influence of what Thomas Mann called "this exhilarating yet wasting disease." Shrouded in secrecy, syphilis was accompanied by wild euphoria and suicidal depression, megalomania and paranoia, profoundly affecting sufferers' worldview, their sexual behaviour, and their art. Deeply informed and courageously argued, Pox has been heralded as a major contribution to our understanding of genius, madness, and creativity.

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    The Graves Are Walking

    It started in 1845 and lasted six years. Before it was over, more than one million men, women, and children starved to death and another million fled the country. Measured in terms of mortality, the Great Irish Potato Famine was one of the worst disasters in the nineteenth century - it claimed twice as many lives as the American Civil War. A perfect storm of bacterial infection, political greed, and religious intolerance sparked this catastrophe. But even more extraordinary than its scope were its political underpinnings, and "The Graves Are Walking" provides fresh material and analysis on the role that nineteenth-century evangelical Protestantism played in shaping British policies and on Britain's attempt to use the famine to reshape Irish society and character. Perhaps most important, this is ultimately a story of triumph over perceived destiny: for fifty million Americans of Irish heritage, the saga of a broken people fleeing crushing starvation and remaking themselves in a new land is an inspiring story of exoneration. Based on extensive research and written with novelistic flair, "The Graves Are Walking" draws a portrait that is both intimate and panoramic, that captures the drama of individual lives caught up in an unimaginable tragedy, while imparting a new understanding of the famine's causes and consequences.

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    Art, history, medievalism, culture, horror, magic, witches, bodies, morbid, writing, general thoughts

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