A 15 Minute Trip Around the World via the Internet

The Ceremonial Mask of Sutton Hoo via Pinterest

The Ceremonial Mask of Sutton Hoo via Pinterest

Weekly Web Links:

  • And you thought they were created by Hollywood…a medieval manuscript appears to tell a story containing  evidence of zombies.
  • There’s tons of information on duels in the wild west but here’s a record of some of the more unique ones.
  • A study has shown that the sudden development in cultural and technological progress roughly 50,000 years ago may have been due to a drop in testosterone levels that occurred around that time.
  • It looks like the earliest evidence of a large-scale war, dated to roughly 13,000 years ago, has been found in the Sudan.
  • Beer. Archaeology. Somehow I don’t think any other information is needed; this is my dream job.

Historical Book Review for the Week:

The Cello Suites by Eric Siblin

siblin-the-cello-suites

This book is fantastic, and beautiful, and wonderful, and everyone should turn off their computers or phones or whatever and go read it immediately.  Eric Siblin has an absolutely remarkable way with words and phrases that allow you to feel as though you are wandering through the old streets of Barcelona, or walking the quite halls of a university, or sitting in the middle of an auditorium listening to one of the most underrated instruments in the world working through some of the most challenging music ever written for them.

As the title suggests, the subject of the book itself are the cello suites which were composed by Bach sometime in the early 1700’s.  These suites are widely considered to be some of the most frequently performed and, therefore, recognizable pieces ever written for the solo cello; an instrument which is often relegated to a supporting role in symphonies.  The narrative of the book itself covers three significant periods in the life of these musical compositions; the story of Johann Sebastian Bach and his musical manuscripts is obviously the first, the second is the story of Pablo Casals in the late 19th century and the rediscovery of this music, and finally the author’s own story of his experience and infatuation with this music and his quest to discover its history.

In addition to being an incredibly interesting read and exceptionally written, it is also clear, through numerous little details, that a great deal of  thought and care went into the layout and preparation of this book.  The narrative jumps back and forth through the three different time periods (rather than tell each one separately and chronologically) and, while this could have resulted in a confusing mess, it has instead been done in such a way as to increase the clarity of the story and to emphasize the connections between the three time periods.

As I said at the beginning, read this book as soon as the opportunity allows, ideally with the cello suites playing in the background.

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