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SHORTLISTED FOR THE ROYAL SOCIETY SCIENCE BOOK PRIZE 2018 Bestselling author Simon Winchester writes a magnificent history of the pioneering engineers who developed precision machinery to allow us to see as far as the moon and as close as the Higgs boson. Precision is the key to everything. It is an integral, unchallenged and essential component of our modern social, mercantile, scientific, mechanical and intellectual landscapes. The items we value in our daily lives - a camera, phone, computer, bicycle, car, a dishwasher perhaps - all sport components that fit together with precision and operate with near perfection. We also assume that the more precise a device the better it is. And yet whilst we live lives peppered and larded with precision, we are not, when we come to think about it, entirely sure what precision is, or what it means. How and when did it begin to build the modern world? Simon Winchester seeks to answer these questions through stories of precision's pioneers. Exactly takes us back to the origins of the Industrial Age, to Britain where he introduces the scientific minds that helped usher in modern production: John `Iron-Mad' Wilkinson, Henry Maudslay, Joseph Bramah, Jesse Ramsden, and Joseph Whitworth. Thomas Jefferson exported their discoveries to the United States as manufacturing developed in the early twentieth century, with Britain's Henry Royce developing the Rolls Royce and Henry Ford mass producing cars, Hattori's Seiko and Leica lenses, to today's cutting-edge developments from Europe, Asia and North America. As he introduces the minds and methods that have changed the modern world, Winchester explores fundamental questions. Why is precision important? What are the different tools we use to measure it? Who has invented and perfected it? Has the pursuit of the ultra-precise in so many facets of human life blinded us to other things of equal value, such as an appreciation for the age-old traditions of craftsmanship, art, and high culture? Are we missing something that reflects the world as it is, rather than the world as we think we would wish it to be? And can the precise and the natural co-exist in society?
On a summer's day in 1858, in a garden behind Christ Church College in Oxford, Charles Dodgson, a lecturer in mathematics, photographed six-year-old Alice Liddell, the daughter of the college dean, with a Thomas Ottewill Registered Double Folding camera, recently purchased in London. Simon Winchester deftly uses the resulting image-as unsettling as it is famous, and the subject of bottomless speculation-as the vehicle for a brief excursion behind the lens, a focal point on the origins of a classic work of English literature. Dodgson's love of photography framed his view of the world, and was partly responsible for transforming a shy and half-deaf mathematician into one of the world's best-loved observers of childhood. Little wonder that there is more to "Alice Liddell as the Beggar Maid" than meets the eye. Using Dodgson's published writings, private diaries, and of course his photographic portraits, Winchester gently exposes the development of Lewis Carroll and the making of his Alice. Acclaim for Simon Winchester "An exceptionally engaging guide at home everywhere, ready for anything, full of gusto and seemingly omnivorous curiosity." -Pico Iyer, The New York Times Book Review "A master at telling a complex story compellingly and lucidly." -USA Today "Extraordinarily graceful." -Time "Winchester is an exquisite writer and a deft anecdoteur." -Christopher Buckley "A lyrical writer and an indefatigable researcher." -Newsweek
Martin Parr, one of Britain's best-known contemporary photographers, and President of Magnum, the world-famous photographic agency has undertaken a photo-documentary book project. Oxford is a collection of around 100 photographs documenting an academic year in the life of the university. They capture the day-to-day life of the colleges and University at work and play, and the colourful and arcane rituals that make it so distinctive. His photographs are accompanied by an extended afterword that draws on, and enriches, the photographic material and penned by Simon Winchester, OBE, the British writer, journalist and broadcaster. The very first photo-documentary of Oxford was created by William Henry Fox Talbot. A century and a half later, Martin Parr's new project pays tribute to the great the pioneer of photography, and coincides with the Bodleian Library's bid to secure his personal archive.
Travelling the circumference of the truly gigantic Pacific, Simon Winchester tells the story of the world's largest body of water, and - in matters economic, political and military - the ocean of the future. The Pacific is a world of tsunamis and Magellan, of the Bounty mutiny and the Boeing Company. It is the stuff of the towering Captain Cook and his wide-ranging network of exploring voyages, Robert Louis Stevenson and Admiral Halsey. It is the place of Paul Gauguin and the explosion of the largest-ever American atomic bomb, on Bikini atoll, in 1951. It has an astonishing recent past, an uncertain present and a hugely important future. The ocean and its peoples are the new lifeblood, fizz and thrill of America - which draws so many of its minds and so much of its manners from the sea - while the inexorable rise of the ancient center of the world, China, is a fixating fascination. The presence of rogue states - North Korea most notoriously today - suggest that the focus of the responsible world is shifting away from the conventional post-war obsessions with Europe and the Middle East, and towards a new set of urgencies. Navigating the newly evolving patterns of commerce and trade, the world's most violent weather and the fascinating histories, problems and potentials of the many Pacific states, Simon Winchester's thrilling journey is a grand depiction of the future ocean.
Blending history and anecdote, geography and reminiscence, science and exposition, the "New York Times" bestselling author of "Krakatoa" tells the breathtaking saga of the magnificent Atlantic Ocean, setting it against the backdrop of mankind's intellectual evolution
Until a thousand years ago, no humans ventured into the Atlantic or imagined traversing its vast infinity. But once the first daring mariners successfully navigated to far shores--whether it was the Vikings, the Irish, the Chinese, Christopher Columbus in the north, or the Portuguese and the Spanish in the south--the Atlantic evolved in the world's growing consciousness of itself as an enclosed body of water bounded by the Americas to the West, and by Europe and Africa to the East. "Atlantic" is a biography of this immense space, of a sea which has defined and determined so much about the lives of the millions who live beside or near its tens of thousands of miles of coast.
The Atlantic has been central to the ambitions of explorers, scientists and warriors, and it continues to affect our character, attitudes, and dreams. Poets to potentates, seers to sailors, fishermen to foresters--all have a relationship with this great body of blue-green sea and regard her as friend or foe, adversary or ally, depending on circumstance or fortune. Simon Winchester chronicles that relationship, making the Atlantic come vividly alive. Spanning from the earth's geological origins to the age of exploration, World War II battles to modern pollution, his narrative is epic and awe-inspiring.
'The greatest enterprise of its kind in history,' was the verdict of British prime minister Stanley Baldwin in June 1928 when The Oxford English Dictionary was finally published. With its 15,490 pages and nearly two million quotations, it was indeed a monumental achievement, gleaned from the efforts of hundreds of ordinary and extraordinary people who made it their mission to catalogue the English language in its entirety. In The Meaning of Everything, Simon Winchester celebrates this remarkable feat, and the fascinating characters who played such a vital part in its execution, from the colourful Frederick Furnivall, cheerful promoter of an all-female sculling crew, to James Murray, self-educated son of a draper, who spent half a century guiding the project towards fruition. Along the way we learn which dictionary editor became the inspiration for Kenneth Grahame's Ratty in The Wind in the Willows, and why Tolkien found it so hard to define 'walrus'. Written by the bestselling author of The Surgeon of Crowthorne and The Map That Changed the World, The Meaning of Everything is an enthralling account of the creation of the world's greatest dictionary.
The Professor and the Madman, masterfully researched and eloquently written, is an extraordinary tale of madness, genius, and the incredible obsessions of two remarkable men that led to the making of the Oxford English Dictionary -- and literary history. The compilation of the OED began in 1857, it was one of the most ambitious projects ever undertaken. As definitions were collected, the overseeing committee, led by Professor James Murray, discovered that one man, Dr. W. C. Minor, had submitted more than ten thousand. When the committee insisted on honoring him, a shocking truth came to light: Dr. Minor, an American Civil War veteran, was also an inmate at an asylum for the criminally insane.This P.S. edition features an extra 16 pages of insights into the book, including author interviews, recommended reading, and more.
From bestselling author Simon Winchester, the extraordinary story of how America was united into a single nation. For more than two centuries, E pluribus unum - out of many, one - has been featured on America's official government seals and stamped on its currency. But how did America become 'one nation, indivisible'? In this monumental history, Simon Winchester addresses this question, introducing the fearless trailblazers whose achievements forged and unified America. Winchester follows in the footsteps of America's most essential explorers, thinkers, and innovators. He treks vast swaths of territory, introducing these fascinating pioneers - some, such as Washington and Jefferson, Lewis and Clark being familiar, some forgotten, some hardly known - who played a pivotal role in creating today's United States. Throughout, he ponders whether the historic work of uniting the States has succeeded, and to what degree. 'The Men Who United the States' is a fresh, lively, and erudite look at the way in which the most powerful nation on earth came together, from one of our most entertaining, probing, and insightful observers.
Introducing and explaining some of the most poignant Japanese words, Ikigai is a lifestyle as well as a language book. From the wistful poetry of mono-no-aware, a word that asks us to recognize the bittersweet transience of all things, to the quiet harmony of wa, which knits together all of society's structures, this book is an introduction to the intricacies and value of Japanese phrases and concepts. It hopes to inspire you to incorporate these words into your own lifestyle and adopt a more mindful attitude to life's stresses, seeking meaning beyond materialism. In addition to over 40 `words to live by', Ikigai features musings on the place of beauty, community, time and nature in Japanese thought, teaching mindfulness by way of compelling haikus, and illustrated by Michael Kenna's reflective photography throughout.
'It is a book that leaves you musing long after reading... a true celebration of the diversity of language and an important reminder of the quirks and obscurities in the world's varying tongues' - Tori Lillie, Babel Magazine Ever racked your brain for a word you're convinced should exist, yet is inexplicably absent from the dictionary? All languages have their limitations-should English fall short, the expression may lie elsewhere. That's where this book comes in: a quirky, international lexicon of linguistic gems that capture cultural untranslatables with satisfying precision. Take for example the Japanese yoko meshi, "a meal eaten sideways," describing the experience of trying to communicate in an alien tongue, or mono-no-aware, the appreciation of life's sadness. From the distinctive coziness of the Danish hygge, to the unrestrained dis of the Mayan bol ("in-laws" and "stupidity"), to the profound collectivism of the Zulu concept of ubuntu (roughly, "I AM because WE ARE"), these mots justes are grouped according to language and prefaced with insightful overviews of the relevant cultures by linguist Christopher J. Moore. Embellished with 20 entertaining new untranslatable words and phrases and 90 characterful color illustrations by Lan Truong, and with a foreword by Simon Winchester, In Other Words is amusing, profound, and unputdownable--a gorgeously packaged gift book to entertain even the most well-versed polyglot with marvels of language from around the world.
In sumptuous and illuminating detail, Simon Winchester, bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman, brings to life the extraordinary story of Joseph Needham--the brilliant Cambridge scientist, freethinking intellectual, and practicing nudist who unlocked the most closely held secrets of China, once the world's most technologically advanced country.
Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher Humorous tales of travel and misadventure. Lonely Planet knows that some of life's funniest experiences happen on the road. Whether they take the form of unexpected detours, unintended adventures, unidentifiable dinners or unforgettable encounters, they can give birth to our most found travel lessons, and our most memorable - and hilarious - travel stories. These 31 globegirdling tales that run the gamut from close-encounter safaris to loss-of-face follies, hair-raising rides to culture-leaping brides, eccentric expats to mind-boggling repasts, wrong roads taken to agreements mistaken. The collection brings together some of the world's most renowned travellers and storytellers with previously unpublished writers. Includes stories by Wickam Boyle, Tim Cahill, Joshua Clark, Sean Condon, Chistopher R.Cox, David Downie, Holly Erikson, Bill Fink, Don George, Karl Taro Greenfeld, Jeff Grenwald, Pico Iyer, Amanda Jones, Kathie Kertesz, Doug Lansky, Alexander Ludwick, Linda Watanabe McFerrin, Jan Morris, Brooke Neill, Rolf Potts, Laura Resau, Michelle Richmond, Alana Semuels, Deborah Steg, Judy Tierney, Edwin Tucker, Jeff Vize, Danny Wallace, Kelly Watton, Simon Wichester, Michelle Witton</(more...)
A rollercoaster ride of the absurd combining the photographs of Kate Schermerhorn and the writing of Simon Winchester in a compelling and hilarious exploration of this search for fun. We see people bungee jump, pretend to bungee jump, play bingo, bowl, hit golf balls through clown heads and stack Oreo Cookies. This is a quirky affectionate take on Americans at play.
America's most important and iconic river has many familiar names: The Mighty Mississippi, Old Blue, and Ole Man River. In Mississippi River: Headwaters and Heartland to Delta and Gulf, the third book of his trilogy on North American Waters, David Freese takes us on a captivating visual journey from its source at Lake Itasca in Minnesota 2,552 miles south to the Gulf of Mexico. Freese's photographs open our eyes to encompass a wide diversity of industry and farmland, cities and towns, landscapes and wildlife, all the while revealing the constant flow of goods, grain, and fuel, up and down the country's major shipping artery. The photographs illustrate the ongoing dangers posed by increased flooding and the protective measures taken by the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers to try and keep a restless river in check. There are environmental concerns, ranging from habitat loss to agricultural and pesticide runoff, and the legacy of slavery and the removal of native peoples persist. It's a river that reveals a complicated past, present, and future as humankind attempts to control nature. American history bends and turns in its waters. The noted author Simon Winchester has written an arresting essay that provides one of the most compelling descriptions and histories yet written about a river that is so much more than a familiar name. The foreword by Sarah Kennel, Curator of Photography at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, places Freese's images into the canon of landscape photography as a magnificent body of work that documents, critiques, honors, and sanctifies America's most treasured river.
Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher* Unexpected stories from unexpected places. Many places can feel like nowhere: a desert, an isolated village, even the middle of a bustling, impersonal city. And then something happens: an adventure, a revelation, an experience that changes the whole landscape. The discovery that every place is the centre of the world to somebody and has its own riches and wonders. The authors of these 30 real-life tales find passion, surprise and illumination in the middle of Borneo or Beijing, in a Mayan mountain village, along a timeworn trail in Tuscany, on an isolated South Pacific island, or under a desert moon in Mali. These richly varied stories all celebrate and illuminate one simple truth: if we embark on each adventure with an open heart and an open mind, travel will take us places we never planned to go, and enrich and enlighten us in ways we never otherwise would have known. Featuring stories by: Anthony Sattin, Danny Wallace, Jason Elliot, Pam Houston, Ralph Potts, Pico Iyer, Tim Cahill, Simon Winchester About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, as well as an(more...)
There is no more beautiful or alluring coast in the world than the West Coast of North America: a 5,000-mile-long region that extends from the Aleutian Islands of Alaska to Canada's British Columbia, south to Washington, Oregon, and California, and then to Baja California in Mexico. No photographer until David Freese has explored the various and wondrous landscapes along the Pacific Ocean in such depth, making this the first book to look comprehensively at what makes the natural beauty of this particular coast so memorable.Behind the scenery, of course, lie the geologic forces that have created the West Coast landscapes that we now admire, explore, and praise. The engaging and informative text by renowned author Simon Winchester grounds us in understanding the deep relationship between geology and scenery. And Naomi Rosenblum, the esteemed photographic historian, writer, curator, and art critic, firmly establishes David Freese's place among the great landscape photographers of the past and present. In every photograph, his unique vision of nature and of place comes shining through."West Coast: Bering to Baja" is a major publishing enterprise that will appeal to book-lovers of photography, nature, and those who dream about visiting and touring North America's West Coast. For here we see the vital connection between art and science merge in ways previously unseen for this special region of the world.To see a beautiful video discussion between the photographer David Freese and text author Simon Winchester, and some of the magnificent photography, go to:
In 1793, a canal digger named William Smith made a startling discovery. He found that by tracing the placement of fossils, which he uncovered in his excavations, one could follow layers of rocks as they dipped and rose and fell--clear across England and, indeed, clear across the world--making it possible, for the first time ever, to draw a chart of the hidden underside of the earth. Smith spent twenty-two years piecing together the fragments of this unseen universe to create an epochal and remarkably beautiful hand-painted map. But instead of receiving accolades and honors, he ended up in debtors' prison, the victim of plagiarism, and virtually homeless for ten years more.
The Map That Changed the World is a very human tale of endurance and achievement, of one man's dedication in the face of ruin. With a keen eye and thoughtful detail, Simon Winchester unfolds the poignant sacrifice behind this world-changing discovery.
Unleashed by ancient geologic forces, a magnitude 8.25 earthquake rocked San Francisco in the early hours of April 18, 1906. Less than a minute later, the city lay in ruins. Bestselling author Simon Winchester brings his inimitable storytelling abilities to this extraordinary event, exploring the legendary earthquake and fires that spread horror across San Francisco and northern California in 1906 as well as its startling impact on American history and, just as important, what science has recently revealed about the fascinating subterranean processes that produced it--and almost certainly will cause it to strike again.
Two distinguished looking Victorians, both learned and serious, yet from very different worlds: one a brilliant polymath, the other a madman and murderer
Dr James Murray, erudite and pious, who broke free from an impoverished childhood to become a towering figure of British scholarship and editor of the great Oxford English Dictionary.
Dr W. C. Minor, lascivious, charismatic, a millionaire American Civil War surgeon and homicidal lunatic. Confined to Broadmoor Asylum he pursued his passion for words and became one of the most valued contributors to the OED.
Their lives and unlikely friendship are unravelled in Simon Winchester's classic work of detection.
Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher* A timely collection of 26 inspiring tales, The Kindness of Strangers explores the unexpected human connections that so often transfigure and transform the experience of travel, and celebrates the gift of kindness around the world. Featuring stories by Jan Morris, Tim Cahill, Simon Winchester and Dave Eggers. I greatly appreciate the theme of this book that gathers stories of kindness received when it was most needed and perhaps least expected. I am sure they will inspire everyone who reads them, encouraging each of us to take whatever opportunities arise to be kind to others in turn. - HIS HOLINESS THE DALAI LAMA The Kindness of Strangers is a wonderful companion for travel. It enlarges us, reminds us that serendipity is one of the ultimate joys of life's constant journey. - AMY TAN A wonderful idea beautifully realized. I enjoyed it immensely.- BILL BRYSON About Lonely Planet: Started in 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel guide publisher with guidebooks to every destination on the planet, as well as an award-winning website, a suite of mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Pla(more...)
In the late 1980s, New York Times bestselling author Simon Winchester set out on foot to discover the Republic of Korea -- from its southern tip to the North Korean border -- in order to set the record straight about this enigmatic and elusive land.
Fascinating for its vivid presentation of historical and geographic detail, Korea is that rare book that actually defines a nation and its people. Winchester's gift for capturing engaging characters in true, compelling stories provides us with a treasury of enchanting and informed insight on the culture, language, history, and politics of this little-known corner of Asia.
With a new introduction by the author, Korea is a beautiful journey through a mysterious country and a memorable addition to the many adventures of Simon Winchester.
Simon Winchester's brilliant chronicle of the destruction of the Indonesian island of Krakatoa in 1883 charts the birth of our modern world. He tells the story of the unrecognized genius who beat Darwin to the discovery of evolution; of Samuel Morse, his code and how rubber allowed the world to talk; of Alfred Wegener, the crack-pot German explorer and father of geology. In breathtaking detail he describes how one island and its inhabitants were blasted out of existence and how colonial society was turned upside-down in a cataclysm whose echoes are still felt to this day.
William Smith was not rich or well-connected, but his passion for rocks and fossils, and his 20-year obsession with single-handedly mapping the geology of Britain made him one of the most significant men of the 19th century. But his vision cost him dear – his wife went mad, his work was stolen by jealous colleagues who eventually ruined him, and he was imprisoned for debt.
Simon Winchester tells the fascinating story of ‘Strata’ Smith, a man who crossed boundaries of class, wealth and science, to produce a map that fundamentally changed the way we view the world.
Acclaimed writer Simon Winchester brings his keen literary eye to this year's volume of the finest travel writing from the past year. "Full of insights, humor, the exotic and distant, and the ordinary and near" ("Library Journal") this collection finds "a perfect mix of exotic locale and elegant prose" ("Publishers Weekly").
For more than two centuries, E pluribus unum--Out of many, one"--has been featured on America's official government seals and stamped on its currency. But what unified a growing number of disparate states into the modern country we recognize today?
Simon Winchester follows the footsteps of America's most crucial innovators, thinkers and explorers, from Lewis and Clark, to the builders of the first transcontinental railroad and the curmudgeonly civil engineer who oversaw the creation of more than three million miles of highway. Winchester travels across vast swaths of the American landscape, from Pittsburgh to Portland, Seattle to Anchorage and Truckee to Laramie, using the five classical elements--Wood, Earth, Water, Fire, and Metal--to chart the contributions these adventurous leaders made to connect the diverse communities within the United States and ensure the future of the American project begun in 1776.
The Men Who United the States is an unforgettable journey of unprecedented scope across time and open spaces, providing a new lens through which to view American history, led by one of the most gifted writers.
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