Milton's Teeth and Ovid's Umbrella: Curiouser and Curiouser Adventures in History

Overview

We've been taught that history is the story of great events and important people -- but is it? In Milton's Teeth and Ovid's Umbrella, Michael Olmert shows how the most ordinary artifacts of everyday life can also be important sources of information. For the modern historian it's the little things that count, and these intriguing essays force us to take another look at the odds and ends of life we so often take for granted, including:
-- ...
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Overview

We've been taught that history is the story of great events and important people -- but is it? In Milton's Teeth and Ovid's Umbrella, Michael Olmert shows how the most ordinary artifacts of everyday life can also be important sources of information. For the modern historian it's the little things that count, and these intriguing essays force us to take another look at the odds and ends of life we so often take for granted, including:
-- Toothbrushes -- how they eased civilization into the Industrial Revolution
-- Graffiti -- why they became a feature of our public "decoration"
-- Playing cards -- how the technology of printing cards led to Gutenberg's Bible
-- Keys -- why these little metal objects have been a symbol of power and authority throughout the ages
-- Horse racing -- how the rage for racing played an important role in the development of fashion and journalism

Whimsical, witty, and highly informative, Milton's Teeth and Ovid's Umbrella leads us through the back door and into the kitchen of history -- where people really lived.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Life, leisure, celebrations, implements, and symbols are the categories under which Olmert (The Book of Books, LJ 9/1/92) places his stories about such subjects as hair and hands, betting and sports, hazing and vacations, tools and pets. Because his accounts are so selective, they are more of antiquarian than historical interest, but he does include suggestions for further reading at the end of each short chapter. His sources range from the Greek classics to artifacts unearthed at Annapolis, where he lives. His essays move freely from western Europe to America but not noticeably to Asia or elsewhere. He writes interestingly about chess and violence, but his economic interpretation of the origins of toothbrushes is unconvincing. For popular collections.R. James Tobin, Univ. of Wisconsin Lib., Milwaukee
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780684801643
  • Publisher: Touchstone
  • Publication date: 6/18/1996
  • Edition description: Original
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 0.59 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

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