Severed : A History of Heads Lost and Heads Found

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 it connects our inner selves to the outer world more evocatively than any other part of the body.

Yet there is a dark side to the head’s pre-eminence. Over the centuries, human heads have decorated our churches, festooned our city walls and filled our museums. Long regarded as objects of fascination and repulsion, they have been props for artists and specimens for laboratory scientists, trophies for soldiers and items of barter.

Today, as videos of decapitations circulate online and scientists promise the wealthy among us that our heads may one day live on without our bodies, the severed head is as contentious and compelling as ever. From the western colonialists whose demand for shrunken heads spurred brutal massacres to the troops in the Second World War who sent the remains of Japanese soldiers home to their girlfriends; from the memento mori in Romantic portraits to Damien Hirst’s With Dead Head; from grave-robbing phrenologists to enterprising cryonicists, Larson explores the bizarre, often gruesome and confounding history of the severed head. Its story is our story.

Breeds : A Canine Compendium

Breeds is charmingly illustrated, delightfully humorous guide to over 100 different breeds of dog (and one cat). From aloof Afghan’s to tearaway terriers, Breeds will strike a chord with dog lovers everywhere. Corgi – spirited yet loyal dogs.

Unusably large ears, all the better for hearing with. The Queen’s favourite and they know it. Dachshund – a long, loving and inquisitive dog.

Slightly neurotic – will spend large parts of the day worrying. Make excellent draft excluders. Scottie – elegant and compact.

Trot along like a dressage horse. Deeply suspicious of other dogs, all of whom are considered lesser beings.

Tweet of the Day : A Year of Britain’s Birds from the Acclaimed Radio 4 Series

Imagine a jazz musician, improvising on a theme. Then imagine that he is able to play half a dozen instruments – not one after another, but almost simultaneously, switching effortlessly between instruments and musical styles with hardly a pause for breath. If you can countenance that, you are halfway towards appreciating the extraordinary song of the nightingale …Wherever we are, there are birds.

And wherever there are birds, there is birdsong. It’s always a pleasure (and a relief) to hear sounds which prove the world’s still spinning: whether it’s the sighing of migrating redwings on a damp October night, the twitter of swallows fresh in from South Africa in April or the call of the cuckoo in May. Based on the scripts of BBC Radio 4’s beloved year-long series, and distilling two lifetimes’ knowledge, insight and enthusiasm into these pages, Brett Westwood and Stephen Moss take you month by month through the year, and the changing lives of our favourite birds.

From peregrines swapping sea-cliffs for skyscrapers to swifts spending almost their entire lives on the wing; from charms of goldfinches to murmurations of starlings; from ptarmigans thriving in the Highland snow to the bright green parakeets thronging London’s parks; this book is packed full of extraordinary insights and memorable facts. Tweet of the Day is a book for everyone who loves Britain’s birds. (Illustrations (c) Carry Akroyd)

A History of British Paddle Steamers

There is a huge following among enthusiasts and the general public for the old paddle steamers that were once a familiar sight in British waters, both inland and around the coast. To cater for this interest the Paddle Steamer Preservation Society has collected a huge amount of material relating to the paddle steamers – posters, photographs, postcards, publicity material, film and recorded material etc. The world famous Waverley is the last active ocean going paddle steamer in existence and draws huge crowds around the country, providing a glimpse of a bygone age of travel.

The Kingswear Castle still sails around the Thames Estuary on pleasure cruises, and the world’s smallest paddle steamer Monarch still delights passengers around the Isle of Wight. This large and handsome hardbook book explores the history of paddle steamers around Britain with a mixture of evocative photographs from the past, nostalgic period publicity material and other memorabilia, facts and figures about the paddle steamers and accounts of the experiences of those who travelled on them.

How to Drive a Car : A Fascinating Insight into Driving in the 1920s and 30s

With the introduction of the driving test and the Highway Code in the 1930s, both seen as essential in combating road deaths at the time, this book was published for the budding driver so they could learn all the nuances of driving and maintaining their car. The 1930s were a time of no motorways, cars that needed almost weekly maintenance, the menace of horses and the dangers of poor lighting and drink driving, and this book sold in its tens of thousands to learner drivers as Britons took to the roads in their millions.

 

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