Lucy's Bones, Sacred Stones, and Einstein's Brain: The Remarkable Stories behind the Great Objects and Artifacts of History, from Antiquity to the Modern Era

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Imagine what it might be like to sit in the cockpit of the Wright brothers' airplane, to see light flashing brilliantly through the Hope Diamond, or to turn the pages of Anne Frank's heartbreaking diary. History has bequeathed to us a multitude of marvelous artifacts, and locked inside each one is a piece of the endless story of our civilization. Raconteur Harvey Rachlin uses these intriguing objects to bring history alive. He spins compelling tales, telling us not only about the roles these objects played but ...
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Lucy's Bones, Sacred Stones, & Einstein's Brain: The Remarkable Stories Behind the Great Objects and Artifacts of History, From Antiquity to the Modern Era

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Overview

Imagine what it might be like to sit in the cockpit of the Wright brothers' airplane, to see light flashing brilliantly through the Hope Diamond, or to turn the pages of Anne Frank's heartbreaking diary. History has bequeathed to us a multitude of marvelous artifacts, and locked inside each one is a piece of the endless story of our civilization. Raconteur Harvey Rachlin uses these intriguing objects to bring history alive. He spins compelling tales, telling us not only about the roles these objects played but also about the people who possessed them or were affected by them, and how the artifacts were handed down through the ages. He begins in antiquity, with the story of the Black Stone of the Ka'bah, the symbolic core of Islam, and moves through time, to the rifle that was used to shoot President Kennedy. He reveals startling new details about familiar artifacts such as the bones of the hominid Lucy and George Washington's false teeth. He introduces us to obscure curiosities, like the Blood of Saint Januarius, which mysteriously liquefies on certain days of the year. And Rachlin explains how the everyday articles that Teddy Roosevelt carried in his pocket miraculously saved his life. Learn where each object currently resides, including how London Bridge found its way to Arizona, or what ultimately happened to the bones of John Merrick, the "Elephant Man."

Beginning in antiquity (the Black Stone of the Ka'bah, the Crown of Thorns), moving through the Dark and Middle Ages (Columbus' Books of Privileges), and finally arriving at the modern era (the Enola Gay, the rifle that killed JFK), this unique book pictures and describes the world's most fascinating artifacts, detailing the causes of their fame, recording their past and present ownership, and celebrating their lasting legend. 80 photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Shroud of Turin, George Washington's false teeth, King Tutankhamen's royal burial treasures, a three-billion-year-old Ethiopian king Hammurabi are among the artifacts and relics spotlighted in this entertaining and enlightening survey. Organized in rough chronological order, from the sacred Black Stone revered by Muslims in Mecca to Voyager 2's gold-plated phonograph record for extraterrestrials, the 50-plus objects make up a pageant of human aspiration, achievement, obsession and belief. Some of the artifacts are heartrending (the bed Lincoln died in, Anne Frank's diary); some are momentous (the Declaration of Independence, the Wright brothers' biplane); and others are nostalgic (London Bridge, Babe Ruth's 60th-home-run bat). And some are bizarre, like the Elephant Man or the fake, wood-carved gun that John Dillinger used to bluff his way out of an Indiana jail. Photos. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Rachlin (The Making of a Detective, LJ 11/1/95) has written a fascinating trivia book covering over 50 artifacts and objects in history. Each relatively short entry follows the same format-"Date," "What It Is," and "What It Looks Like." The prose is sprightly and often witty. Such topics as George Washington's False Teeth, the Shroud of Turin, and Napoleon's Penis are bound to pique readers' interest. The book is soundly researched; in the field of U.S. history, for example, only one minor chronological misplacement was found. Some selections will surely whet the appetite for additional reading. Books of this nature have been very popular in recent years, e.g., I Love Paul Revere, Whether He Rode or Not (HarperCollins, 1992). This title should prove no exception.-Stephen G. Weisner, Springfield Technical Community Coll., Mass.
Gilbert Taylor
In Rachlin's reliquary repose 50-plus objects, made famous through mysterious origins, like the Black Stone of the Kacbah in Mecca, or through being at the right place at the right time, like the Lee-Grant surrender tables. The bulk of the items have Judeo-Christian or American associations, which endows a devotional aura closely followed by an acquisitive one: the question of where the relic came from and who owned it--its provenance--is the engine of all Rachlin's stories. And as window-shopping history, they are breezily distracting, though no substitute for going into a bookstore (or library) and getting a fuller history, which Rachlin implicitly and fairly acknowledges by providing a bibliography related to each artifact. But first, any casual interest in the Shroud of Turin, the Bayeux Tapestry, the Declaration of Independence, or (gulp) Napoleon's member of reproduction needs to be excited, so to speak, and that goal Rachlin achieves in his summaries, with heads stating "What It Is," "What It Looks Like," and "Location." Obviously history-lite, but harmless fun
Booknews
A series of historical vignettes which illuminate the story connected with some 50 relics dating from antiquity to the present. The relics range from the Shroud of Turin and Anne Frank's diary to George Washington's false teeth and the dried remains of philosopher Jeremy Bentham. B&w photographs. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805039641
  • Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/11/1995
  • Series: Reference Bks.
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 416

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
The Black Stone of the Ka'bah 9
Lucy the Hominid 15
The Code of Hammurabi 22
The Contents of King Tutankhamen's Tomb 26
The Black Obelisk 33
The Siloam Inscription 41
The Rosetta Stone 47
The Portland Vase 55
The Veil of the Virgin 61
The Crown of Thorns 65
The Holy Lance 70
The Shroud of Turin 76
The Blood of Saint Januarius 86
The Rubens Vase 90
The Antioch Chalice 94
The Book of Kells 100
The Bayeux Tapestry and the Domesday Book 104
The Holy Child of Aracoeli 112
Columbus's Books of Privileges 115
The Cantino Map 126
The Hope Diamond 129
Edmond Halley's Astronomical Observation Notebooks 137
The Declaration of Independence 142
George Washington's False Teeth 150
The Crypt of John Paul Jones 157
HMS Victory 173
Vice Admiral Lord Nelson's Uniform Coat 177
The Star-Spangled Banner 182
Napoleon's Penis 190
London Bridge 197
Jeremy Bentham: A Philosopher for the Ages 203
The One-Cent Magenta 208
John Brown's Bible 212
Captain Danjou's Wooden Hand 217
Major General Daniel E. Sickles's Leg 221
The Gettysburg Address 227
The Appomattox Surrender Tables 236
The Bed Lincoln Died In 244
Little Sorrel, Stonewall Jackson's Charger 259
Robert Browning's Reliquary 267
The Elephant Man 274
Owney, the Canine Traveler 280
The Wright Brothers' Flyer 283
The Breast-Pocket Items That Saved the Life of Theodore Roosevelt 290
Piltdown Man 297
Laddie Boy 303
Babe Ruth's Sixtieth-Home-Run Bat 306
John Dillinger's Wooden Jail-Escape Gun 310
Anne Frank's Diary 314
The Enola Gay 320
Einstein's Brain 325
The Rifle That Killed President Kennedy 335
Voyager 1 and Voyager 2's Gold-Plated Phonograph Record for Extraterrestrials 349
Acknowledgments 354
Sources and Bibliography 361
Index 383
Illustration Credits 401
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 16, 2014

    Loved this book! The condensed versions of history was very enjo

    Loved this book! The condensed versions of history was very enjoyable and informative. 

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2003

    Interesting history

    I enjoy history and this title allows glimpses in to the history of interesting historical artifacts. It allows the reader to catch a glimpse of dozens of possible articles that could lead in to complete realms of study and reading for anyone. Also, set up in easy to follow format. Good read!

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