Adventure is just bad planning… Roald Amundsen

An empire of ice : Scott, Shackleton, and the heroic age of Antarctic science Edward J. Larson New Haven : Yale University Press, c 2011 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. xiv, 326 p., [16] p. of plates : ill., maps ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. 295-315) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Discovery and explorations of the South Pole by Capt. Roald Amundsen and crew, 1910-11: A photograph of another of the expedition's camps on the way to pole

Discovery and explorations of the South Pole by Capt. Roald Amundsen and crew, 1910-11: A photograph of another of the expedition’s camps on the way to pole

Published to coincide with the centenary of the first expeditions to reach the South Pole, An Empire of Ice presents a fascinating new take on Antarctic exploration. Retold with added information, it’s the first book to place the famed voyages of Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, his British rivals Robert Scott and Ernest Shackleton, and others in a larger scientific, social, and geopolitical context.

Photograph show expedition members Capt. Lawrence Oates, Lt. Henry Robertson Bowers, Capt. Robert F. Scott, Dr. Edward A. Wilson, and P.O. Edgar Evans on skis, towing a sled of provisions.

Photograph show expedition members Capt. Lawrence Oates, Lt. Henry Robertson Bowers, Capt. Robert F. Scott, Dr. Edward A. Wilson,  on skis, towing a sled of provisions.

Efficient, well prepared, and focused solely on the goal of getting to his destination and back, Amundsen has earned his place in history as the first to reach the South Pole. Scott, meanwhile, has been reduced in the public mind to a dashing incompetent who stands for little more than relentless perseverance in the face of inevitable defeat.

Photograph shows crew member with dog team hitched together sitting among ice floe; in the far background the Endurace is stuck.

Photograph shows crew member with dog team hitched together sitting among ice floe; in the far background the Endurace is stuck.

An Empire of Ice offers a new perspective on the Antarctic expeditions of the early twentieth century by looking at the British efforts for what they actually were: massive scientific enterprises in which reaching the South Pole was but a spectacular sideshow. By focusing on the larger purpose, Edward Larson deepens our appreciation of the explorers’ achievements, shares little-known stories, and shows what the Heroic Age of Antarctic discovery was really about.

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You came to tell us that the great cities are in favour of the gold standard; we reply that the great cities rest upon our broad and fertile plains. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic. But destroy out farms and the grass will grow in the city…You shall not press down upon the brow of labour this crown of thorns. You shall not crucify mankind upon a cross of gold… William Jennings Bryan

The gold standard at the turn of the twentieth century : rising powers, global money, and the age of Empire Steven Bryan New York : Columbia University Press, c 2010 Hardcover. 1st ed., later printing. viii, 273 p. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Print shows a bust portrait of William Jennings Bryan and portraits of his family, also illustrations, at the bottom, of a farmer and a blacksmith; includes the complete text of the "Cross of Gold", the speech that helped Bryan win the Democratic Party nomination for president, with 16 large silver dollars and one small gold dollar framing the speech at the top right and left corners.

Print shows a bust portrait of William Jennings Bryan and portraits of his family, also illustrations, at the bottom, of a farmer and a blacksmith; includes the complete text of the “Cross of Gold”, the speech that helped Bryan win the Democratic Party nomination for president, with 16 large silver dollars and one small gold dollar framing the speech at the top right and left corners.

By the end of the nineteenth century, the world was ready to adopt the gold standard out of concerns of national power, prestige, and anti-English competition. Yet although the gold standard allowed countries to enact a virtual single world currency, the years before World War I were not a time of unfettered liberal economics and one-world, one-market harmony. Outside of Europe, the gold standard became a tool for nationalists and protectionists primarily interested in growing domestic industry and imperial expansion.

This overlooked trend, reassessed in Bryan’s history, contradicts our conception of the gold standard as a British-based system infused with English ideas, interests, and institutions. In countries like Japan and Argentina, where nationalist concerns focused on infant-industry protection and the growth of military power, the gold standard enabled the expansion of trade and the goals of the age: industry and empire.

Bryan argues that these countries looked less to Britain and more to North America and the rest of Europe for ideological models. Not only does this history challenge our notions of the prewar period, but it also reorients our understanding of the history that followed. Policymakers of the 1920s latched onto the idea that global prosperity before World War I was the result of a system dominated by English liberalism. Their attempt to reproduce this triumph helped bring about the global downturn, the Great Depression, and the collapse of the interwar world.

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One can only see what one observes, and one observes only things which are already in the mind, so, until the case is solved… Alphonse Bertillon

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The crimes of Paris : a true story of murder, theft, and detection Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler New York : Little, Brown and Co., 2009 Hardcover. 1st ed. and printing. vi, 376 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [341]-357) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

Turn-of-the-century Paris was the beating heart of a rapidly changing world. Painters, scientists, revolutionaries, poets – all were there. But so, too, were the shadows: Paris was a violent, criminal place, its sinister alleyways the haunts of Apache gangsters and its cafes the gathering places of murderous anarchists. In 1911, it fell victim to perhaps the greatest theft of all time – the taking of the Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Immediately, Alphonse Bertillon, a detective world-renowned for pioneering crime-scene investigation techniques, was called upon to solve the crime. And quickly the Paris police had a suspect: a young Spanish artist named Pablo Picasso….

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I think of Dean Moriarty, I even think of Old Dean Moriarty the father we never found, I think of Dean Moriarty… Jack Kerouac, On the Road

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In addition to any number of crackpot economic theories [Marxism springs to mind first and foremost], popularization of the flat-earth myth and the invention of the renaissance as a historical period we can also thank the nineteenth century for the popularization of celebrity biography. The ability to take some one who, for instance, plays Richard III with verve and wit and somehow elevate them to a status almost equal to that enjoyed by Richard III when he reigned is an exercise in fatuity. A character like Maynard G. Krebs may be amusing as a parody. In the flesh such a person is invariably a parasite unworthy of further attention. To culturally enshrine such a character in a celebrity biography soars past fatuity and approaches ridiculousness faster than Kerouac’s typewriter at full bore.

Neal Cassady : the fast life of a beat hero David Sandison and Graham Vickers London : Omnibus, c 2008 Hardcover. xi, 340 p., [16] p. of plates : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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This in-depth biography of Neal Cassady takes a look at the man who achieved immortality as Dean Moriarty, the central character in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. A charismatic, funny, and superficially seemingly intelligent man, Cassady was also a compulsive womanizer who lived life on the edge. His conversational writing style inspired Kerouac, who lifted a number of passages verbatim and uncredited from Cassady’s letters for significant episodes in On the Road. Drawing on a wealth of new research and with full cooperation from central figures in his life — including Carolyn Cassady and Ken Kesey — this account captures Cassady’s unique blend of lunacy cloaked by pseudo-spirituality.

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People commonly travel the world over to see rivers and mountains, new stars, garish birds, freak fish, grotesque breeds of human; they fall into an animal stupor that gapes at existence and they think they have seen something… Soren Kierkegaard

The bird : a natural history of who birds are, where they came from, and how they live Colin Tudge New York : Crown Publishers, c 2008 Hardcover. 1st American ed. and printing. Originally published: Consider the birds : who they are and what they do. London : Allen Lane, 2008. xvi, 462 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [431]-433) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text. VG/VG

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  • How are birds so good at flying and navigating?
  • Why are birds so like mammals- and yet so very different?
  • Did birds descend from dinosaurs, and if so, does that mean birds are dinosaurs?
  • How do they court each other and fend off rivals?
  • What’ s being communicated in birdsong?
  • Can we ever know how birds think?

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In this fascinating exploration of the avian class, Colin Tudge considers the creatures of the air. From their evolutionary roots to their flying, feeding, fighting, mating, nesting, and communicating, Tudge provocatively ponders what birds actually do-as well as why they do it and how. With the same curiosity, passion, and insight he brought to redwoods, pines, and palm trees in his widely acclaimed book The Tree, Tudge here studies sparrows, parrots, and even the Monkey-eating Eagle to better understand their world-and our own.

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There is far more to a bird’s existence than gliding gracefully on air currents or chirping sweetly from fence posts – the stakes are life and death. By observing and explaining the complex strategy that comes into play with everything from migration to social interaction to the timing of giving birth to young, Tudge reveals how birds are uniquely equipped biologically to succeed and survive.

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Complete with an “annotated cast list” of all the known birds in the world – plus illustrations – The Bird is a comprehensive and delightfully accessible guide for everyone from dedicated birders to casual birdwatchers that celebrates and illuminates the remarkable lives of birds.

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