Wednesday, January 12, 2011

History in news!

Most major newshouses /publications publish an annual issue. Typically, this comprises the highlights of that year in the context of that publication. Imagine that such an edition printed today survives intact about 3000 years into the future. Imagine that the world would have changed drastically by then, society no longer being what we live in today. Imagine that someone interested in history finds it. And has a peak into the everyday workings of today's world!

That is how one feels on reading these beautifully illustrated books published by Candlewick Press. All archive news items and features are reprinted as they originally were purported to be, with their supposed original illustrations. This gives us a feeling of immediacy associated with today's news. There are footnotes by today's editor with a fresh perspective on a past event, as if in hindsight.

For ages 8+

Published circa 1100 B.C.
Period covered 3000-1100 B.C.
Scott Steedman, James Putnam
We can revisit the making of the Great Pyramids, the reign of the first female Pharaoh Hatshepsut, the sensational plot hatched by Queen Teye to murder her husband Ramses III and put her son Pentaware on the throne, the tragedy of the untimely death of Tutankhamen.

We learn more about the craft of embalming from an interview with the top embalmers of the kingdom. We get a look at the treasures put in a royal's tomb, tips on the best way to enter afterlife, a peek into the hallowed heart of their temples and learn about the many gods worshipped. There are also features on taxes to be payed, the schooling system, tasty tips on flavouring of everyday food, answers to a new-bride-to-be's questions, trade tips, and more.

Published circa 400 A.D.
Period covered 800 B.C.-400 A.D.
Andrew Langley, Philip de Souza
Here we have items on the murder of Caesar, an eyewitness account of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the destruction of Pompeii, the opening of the Colosseum, gladiator fights and chariot races under sporting news, trade news and features for slaves. There are also eyewitness accounts of battles and feasts.  

There is a fashion feature on the art of wearing and significance of  different kinds of tunics and togas, and advice to women about the in-fashion styles and colours, with make-up and accesory tips. We also learn about the accepted norms of behaviour for citizens, slaves, and women in different social conditions. There is also a question-answer column, where an agony-aunt replies to queries regarding wedding customs, food, etc. 

Published circa 300 B.C.
Period covered 800-300 B.C.
Anton Powell, Philip Steele

Here we have plenty of news on battles, politics, trade- both of goods and slaves, sports, medicine and philosophy. The feature on the Olympic Games gives a programme and guide to events, complete with a description and a list of rules for each event.

There are Women's Pages with interviews of women from different walks of life, with advertisements for midwives, perfumes, fabric, jewellery, clay potties for babies, etc. There are Greek-style debates for and against school at an early age, education for girls, and the best god to pray to in a calamity.

There are features on the toughness of Spartans, on being the perfect citizen, theatre and actors, best farming practices, the great philosophers Thales, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, the pros and cons of living in a city, and much more. 

All publications also carry advertisements for products and services, 'for sale' and 'jobs available' ads, all placed in the 'present' of the said publication. These, along with the various news items and features, really build up a very comprehensive picture of each great civilisation in a fun way. 

The books each have an appendix which gives us a detailed timeline of major events and rulers, with a short write up on each. Illustrations are all in the typical style of each civilisation, done by various illustrators, in full colour. They really bring alive all news items.

There are many more books in this series, based on the Aztecs, Vikings, Explores, Space, Stone Age, Medicine, etc. They all promise to be equally informative and a fun way to learn about them. Wish there was one on India in this format. Would have been wonderful.

Pics courtesy  



Choxbox said...

Awesome picks - we LOVE these. History packed in a funky manner - the other being the Horrible histories are hugely fun! My favourites are the ads in these ’newspapers’!

starry eyed said...

Wow Sandhya...thanks! We're presently also hooked to the Horrible series...and this sounds even more interesting!

Vibha said...

Great picks Sandhya and nicely compiled. Will look for these books in the library.

Meera Sriram said...

Seems very interesting! Just recommended them to my 11 yr old nephew in India. Thanks for this Sandhya!

sandhya said...

Thanks all. @Chox, Starry: I had the Horrible History series in my mind when I posted these.

The ads are a favorite here too. They bring really bring alive the 'now' of these ancient times.

A has been poring over these books for the past few days, and cannot seem to get enough of them! :)

Praba Ram said...

Sounds like a set of books I can see myself getting hooked on! Will look out for these, Sandhya. Thanks!

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