Thursday, February 27, 2014

Three books to be on the look-out for

So, as a result of going to Kalamazoo, I've gotten on some university-press book-publishers mailing lists, and I get a more or less steady stream of flyers and mini-catalogues and the like regarding their new and forthcoming releases. Most of these I put aside to look at later, when I get time, and then never do -- since I hate to skim  and it takes more time than I have to spare to read through them in detail. But an appealing little booklet of new and forthcoming releases from Princeton University Press broke the mold, having in its first few pages not one but two books I'd not heard about that I'll definitely want to get; further scrutiny turned up a third towards the back of the little catalogue as well.

The first is 1177 B.C.: THE YEAR CIVILIZATION COLLAPSED by Eric H. Cline [forthcoming, April 2014], about the ravages of the Sea Peoples and how they brought about the collapse of Minoan and Mycenaean culture, as well as those of the Hittites and Babylonians -- everyone, in fact, except the Egyptians, who successfully fought them off.* The fall of Troy is the best-known episode in these events, unless Bernal is right in his suggestion that the Philistines, so well known in the Old Testament, were a branch of the Sea Peoples establishing themselves along the coast of Palestine. Looks to be an interesting treatment of a period I'd like to know more about, making this one look like a win-win proposition.

The second is PHILOLOGY: THE FORGOTTEN ORIGINS OF THE MODERN HUMANITIES by James Turner [forthcoming, June 2014]. It cd be said that Tolkien was The Last Philologist (how's that for a book title for somebody someday?), the last representative of a great tradition in scholarship. Accordingly, learning more about that tradition shd cast some interesting light on Tolkien himself as well as his context.

And the third is THE FIRST FOSSIL HUNTERS: DINOSAURS, MAMMOTHS, AND MYTH IN GREEK AND ROMAN TIMES by Adrienne Mayor [2011 rpt of a 2001 title*]. I've long known (or at least believed) that dragons, giants,  and similar monsters were in part based on the ancients encountering fossils of huge extinct creatures; sounds like in this book Mayor has laid out the evidence for that idea. Replacing general knowledge with specific, and on such an interesting topic too, makes this one sound like a potential keeper.

So, when the book-budget allows, these three will all go on the 'order now' list. Here's hoping they live up to expectations.

current audiobook: THE CALL OF CTHLUHU (short stories by HPL)
current reading: A GRAVEYARD FOR LUNATICS by Ray Bradbury (bad detective novel)

*previous edition's title: THE FIRST FOSSIL HUNTERS: PALEONTOLOGY IN GREEK AND ROMAN TIMES -- which I like rather better than the updated one, but so it goes.

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