Que savons-nous de la naissance de l'Univers ? Qu'en disaient les Grecs ? La mythologie chinoise ? Les Aztèques ? Et Einstein ? La Terre est-elle plate ? Carrée ? Ronde ? Tourne-t-elle autour du Soleil, ou est-ce l'inverse ?
Avec ses histoires extraordinaires et ses illustrations spectaculaires, ce livre explore la fascination de l'humanité pour les mystères du ciel. Traversant le temps et les civilisations, dévoilant mythes, croyances et théories scientifiques, il brosse une magnifique chronique de l'imaginaire et de la découverte du cosmos.
Qui penserait à remettre au goût du jour les combats de pieuvres ? Le cricket unijambiste ? Le concours d'insultes ? La course de tortues ? Le saut de barils ? La boxe avec feux d'artifice ? Le ballet à skis ?
Autant d'idées possibles et un point commun : ces sports absurdes, étonnants, dérisoires, indéniablement drôles et décalés ont tous existé.
* BBC RADIO 4 BOOK OF THE WEEK * ''Anybody who loves the printed word will be bowled over by this amusing, erudite, beautiful book about books. It is in every way a triumph. One of the loveliest books to have been published for many, many years'' Alexander McCall Smith ''Quite simply the best gift for any book lover this year, or perhaps ever'' Lucy Atkins, Sunday Times Literary Book of the Year ''An utterly joyous journey into the deepest eccentricities of the human mind The most cheering, fascinating book Ive read for ages'' Guardian From the author of the critically acclaimed and globally successful The Phantom Atlas , The Golden Atlas and The Sky Atlas comes a stunning new work. The Madmans Library is a unique, beautifully illustrated journey through the entire history of literature, delving into its darkest territories to hunt down the very strangest books ever written, and uncover the fascinating stories behind their creation. This is a madmans library of eccentric and extraordinary volumes from around the world, many of which have been completely forgotten. Books written in blood and books that kill, books of the insane and books that hoaxed the globe, books invisible to the naked eye and books so long they could destroy the Universe, books worn into battle, books of code and cypher whose secrets remain undiscovered and a few others that are just plain weird. From the 605-page Qur''an written in the blood of Saddam Hussein , through the gorgeously decorated 15th-century lawsuit filed by the Devil against Jesus, to the lost art of binding books with human skin, every strand of strangeness imaginable (and many inconceivable) has been unearthed and bound together for a unique and richly illustrated collection ideal for every book-lover .
''An entertaining new book which looks back at the most bizarre sporting activities ever devised by mankind'' Daily Mail ''Perfect book for the Christmas stockings of adults and curious children'' Wall Street Journal For those who enjoyed the quirkiness of Schott''s Miscellany , the erudition of The Etymologicon or the extremes of The Dangerous Book for Boys , this is the ideal read. From Flagpole Sitting to Hot Cockles, Edward Brooke-Hitching has researched through piles of dusty tomes to bring vividly back to life some of the most curious, dangerous and downright bizarre sports and pastimes ever devised, before we thought better of it and erased them from the memory. After all, who would ever want to bring back Fox Tossing , a popular sport for men and women in 17th-century Germany? The sport involved dozens of couples pairing up and standing 20-25 feet apart in an enclosed field, each holding one end of a net, and then they would pull hard at both ends as the fox ran past, sending it flying high into the air. There are many other sports revealed within these pages that are unlikely ever to make an appearance on our TV screens, such as Firework Boxing , which is just as dangerous as it sounds. Meanwhile, Ski Ballet may not have been so risky, but Suzy ''Chapstick'' Chaffee''s signature move - the Suzy Split (a complete forward split while balanced on the tips of her skis) - was probably not one to try at home. An intriguing, entertaining and occasionally shocking insight into the vivid imaginations of humanity across the years, Fox Tossing, Octopus Wrestling and Other Forgotten Sports is an unforgettable read and a perfect gift.
A STUNNINGLY ILLUSTRATED BOOK REVEALING THE GREATEST MYTHS, LIES AND BLUNDERS ON MAPS ''Highly recommended'' - Andrew Marr ''A spectacular, enjoyable and eye-opening read'' - Jonathan Ross The Phantom Atlas is an atlas of the world not as it ever existed, but as it was thought to be . These marvellous and mysterious phantoms - non-existent islands, invented mountain ranges, mythical civilisations and other fictitious geography - were all at various times presented as facts on maps and atlases. This book is a collection of striking antique maps that display the most erroneous cartography, with each illustration accompanied by the story behind it. Exploration, map-making and mythology are all brought together to create a colourful tapestry of monsters, heroes and volcanoes; swindlers, mirages and murderers . Sometimes the stories are almost impossible to believe, and remarkably, some of the errors were still on display in maps published in the 21st century. Throughout much of the 19th century more than 40 different mapmakers included the Mountains of Kong, a huge range of peaks stretching across the entire continent of Africa, in their maps - but it was only in 1889 when Louis Gustave Binger revealed the whole thing to be a fake. For centuries, explorers who headed to Patagonia returned with tales of the giants they had met who lived there, some nine feet tall. Then there was Gregor MacGregor, a Scottish explorer who returned to London to sell shares in a land he had discovered in South America. He had been appointed the Cazique of Poyais, and bestowed with many honours by the local king of this unspoiled paradise. Now he was offering others the chance to join him and make their fortune there, too - once they had paid him a bargain fee for their passage... The Phantom Atlas is a beautifully produced volume , packed with stunning maps and drawings of places and people that never existed . The remarkable stories behind them all are brilliantly told by Edward Brooke-Hitching in a book that will appeal to cartophiles everywhere.