We're setting sail this holiday season with some great new books about seafaring for the centenary of the birth of Patrick O'Brian, author of the beloved Aubrey-Maturin novels. How many have you read?
Speaking of shipping, place your orders in time for the holidays! And if you still haven't found that perfect gift...what about a wall map? We've got some beautifully-produced world maps from National Geographic.
And finally, we're featuring books that celebrate beautiful places and rare species, which, without our help, may not be around much longer. Filled with meticulous research and gorgeous photographs (Camille Seaman reveals some exquisite images from her new collection), these books are a call for conservation efforts around the world as we head into a brand new year.
Congrats to National Book Award winner, Evan Osnos, happy 25th anniversary to our parent company, East View and safe travels to all this holiday season!
1. SETTING SAIL: THE CENTENARY OF PATRICK O'BRIAN'S BIRTH
If Patrick O'Brian were still living, he would turn 100 this month. We're celebrating the centennial with some sea-worthy books and, of course, O'Brian's classic Aubrey-Maturin novels, featuring Captain Jack Aubrey and his great friend Stephen Maturin, a naturalist-cum-spy, in their adventures at sea, all set against an impressively-researched backdrop of Lord Nelson's British Navy. The beautifully packaged full set makes a great holiday gift!
Once you start reading these books, it is very hard to stop — and with the whole series at hand you won't have to. Here they all are in a five-volume omnibus edition, including the three chapters of O'Brian's unfinished 21st volume. Handsomely bound with a slipcase.
The very first of the wildly (and deservedly!) popular ocean-going novels of Aubrey and Maturin situates Captain Jack and his sidekick Stephen Maturin in the Napoleonic Wars. This first volume takes place in the Western Mediterranean with significant action occurring in Minorca, Palermo and Gibraltar.
Edited by master storyteller Patrick O'Brian — and published in honor of the centenary of his birth — this rich collection of mostly 17th- and 18th-century travel accounts is a window into that time period and also makes for great reading. The selections may have even served as inspiration for the adventures of O'Brian's fictional heroes Captain Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin.
A lively history of a great achievement of navigation and science (and our namesake!). This handsomely illustrated large-format book presents the scientific, political and commercial battles of the 18th century that contextualize the need to accurately measure a ship's position at sea. Authors Richard Dunn and Renekah Higgitt tell the story of a humble, self-educated clockmaker who solved the problem and claimed a national prize.
This well-curated volume features a series of essays — culled from the Rare Book Collection of the American Museum of Natural History — whose subject is the sea. Accounts from legendary explorers and early naturalists are paired with gorgeous illustrations of ocean life. Includes 40 frameable prints.
"Throughout human history, people have been linked with the ocean in the most fundamental ways. The basics of survival — food and oxygen — are provided by the sea, and civilizations have thrived alongside oceans, which offer myriad opportunities for transportation and trade. Beyond that, the human spirit is inherently drawn to the ocean for recreation, inspiration and solace."
—Ellen V. Futter, President of the American Museum of Natural History
Covering the epic story of colonialism in Africa, Martin Meredith's magisterial history depicts empire-hungry kings, missionaries, tribal warlords, mining barons — even modern multinational corporations. An expansive but entertaining read.
Scholastique Mukasonga's plot unfolds behind the gates of an upper-crust girls' school where political tensions heat up, friendships end, racial animosities form and Rwanda marches inexorably toward genocide. A debut novel that quickly rose through France's bestseller list.
An elegant and honest history of Tangier's golden age (1920s-1950s). In crisp prose and witty vignettes, Iain Finlayson lays bare Tangier's vices, virtues and the exploits of famous visitors including the Beat poets, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote.
Alexander McCall Smith's formidable, straight-shooting detective, Precious Ramotswe, returns in a screwball adventure that results when her partner decides to open a resturaunt. The book, like all the installments in the No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series, is imbued with the traditions, folkways and landscapes of Botswana. It's also a lot of fun!
A moving, personal account of stories and photos of young chimpanzees — babies, toddlers and young adults — living in Gombe National Park. Goodall reflects on the chimps and their welfare. Photographs by Michael Neugebauer. Geared for children ages 6 to 9.
National Geographic's tried-and-true political wall map, which is a Robinson Projection (so that east and west edges are curved), shows some detailed relief, but mainly boundaries and large and medium-sized cities. Insets depict the poles, world vegetation and land use and world population density. Scaled at 1:38,931,000. Unfurls to 43 x 30 inches.
Diane Johnson, a two-time finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award, meditates on Americans' pull between "home" and self-invention abroad. A Midwesterner with small-town roots, Johnson searches her ancestors' letters and memoirs for "wispy but material" family ghosts who testify to complex times and historical forces that continue to shape the present. Her memoir wonderfully explores American identity, history and the American Midwest.
Wunderpus Photogenicus and other weird and unimagined sea creatures feature prominently in Caspar Henderson's beautifully produced alphabet book. From axolotl to zebra fish, each creature serves as an occasion for some quote from the ancients, a salient point about ecology or simply wonder about the world.
A luxurious volume of high-resolution portraits and landscapes by a master wildlife photographer. Thomas D. Manglesen includes his most majestic photographs of animals and natural habitats from pole to pole. Introduction by Jane Goodall.
With 160 color plates and photos of significant fossil discoveries, this large-format book is a splendid, accessible introduction to evolution by renowned paleontologist Niles Eldredge, whose groundbreaking research refined Darwin's original theory.
An evocative visual story of the Earth, its life and the labored march of evolution. Paleontologist Paul D. Taylor explains the importance of 100 fossils, all housed at either the Smithsonian Institute or the Natural History Museum in London. The collection includes insects encapsulated in amber, fossils from the notorious Burgess Shale site, the oldest-known bird fossil and the remains of humanity's ancestors.
Delving into the recent geologic history of Madagascar (we're talking the Holocene era, if you're curious), Steven M. Goodman and his colleagues uncover a stunning variety of life that has existed on the island. Although Madagascar currently boasts over 100 species of lemur, the authors show, with the aid of exquisite subfossils, a dazzling array of species that used to live there. Filled with commissioned full-color plates.
Mixing in her personal journey and photographs, Shelley Wright charts the history of the Inuit and Canadian explorers alongside reflections on current conditions and devastating climate change. The narrative combines individual stories and the experiences of recent Arctic immigrants with the legal, scientific and political.
Galvanized by overfishing and increasingly fragile ocean ecosystems, underwater photographer Jeffrey Rotman decided to immortalize the plight of the world's oceans. His remarkable portraiture brings us face-to-face with the effects of illegal fishing and overfishing.
An artful celebration of the planet's fast-disappearing landscapes, wildlife and cultures as captured by the lens of photographer Art Wolfe. From the rich sensations of the Pushkar Camel Fair to the moment polar bear cubs first leave their den, his iconic images showcase the delicate interconnectivity of life across the globe. Representing 40 years of Wolfe's expeditionary photography, this beautiful compilation is the largest collection of his work yet. With an introduction by the talented environmental advocate and writer Wade Davis.
6. A FAVORITE SPOT: CAPE BIRD, ANTARCTICA
Kindly contributed by the celebrated photographer Camille Seaman, who has built her career on majestic portraiture. Over a 10-year period, Seaman traveled to the poles to document the rapidly changing face of the polar regions. Her new collection Melting Away, a masterful series of 75 photos presented alongside accompanying essays, shows climate change at work.
"It was Christmas Day, I was feeling a bit melancholy about being so far away from my seven-year-old daughter. As our ship the I/B Kapitan Klebnikov approached Ross Island we could smell and hear the Adelie penguin colony long before we could make out their shapes on the shore.
We took several zodiacs (small black rubber boat designed by Jaques Cousteau) ashore. After walking around for a while the light began to change. It was obvious that a snow squall was heading our way. As I watched the light, I asked if I could go out in the zodiac closer to a few icebergs that were stranded on the bottom of the shallow coast. Permission granted. I, along with another photographer, John Weller, moved very slowly along the water so as to not disturb the icebergs or any reflections. I felt the paradox of this ancient creature before me, seeming so solid and so fragile and precarious at the same time. There was also something ship-like about its form. It is images like this on days like this that affirm the power of an image done well, and when I work, I always honor the sacrifice that my daughter has made by doing my very best.
As we went round the back side of the iceberg the darkness of the approaching storm turned everything into a moody monochromatic scene (even though this image is in full color). I used a small Epson RD-1 with a 35mm Leica lens on a six megapixel camera. There was a stillness, something dark and something pensive in the air. I remember it like it was yesterday.
People often ask me if it was cold. The strange thing is I cannot remember."