Vikings -- Life and Legend, Edited by Gareth Williams, Peter Pentz, Matthias Wemhoff, Cornell UPress '14 sturdy paperback, with fold-in front and back covers, in oversized format on glossy stock. 288 pages, ASIN #0801479428. Index, illustration credits, timeline of the Viking Age, list of exhibits, list of lenders, bibliography, notes, scores of color and b&w glossy images, some full-page..
Bookshelves are groaning under the weight of scores of volumes about the Vikings, their history, culture, and their legends. But few can surpass the detail and imagery of this new volume published by Cornell University Press.
"The word 'Viking' is used to mean a variety of different things," writes Editor Gareth Williams in his Introduction. "In old Norse, the words vikingr and viking had quite specific meanings relating to raiding and piracy...., but 'Viking' is also widely used today to refer to the peoples and culture of Scandinavia in the 'Viking Age' (800-1050), and sometimes even as an ethnic label." He goes on to suggest the term may have originated with pirates who frequented inlets from which they emerged to attack passing ships or may refer to inhabitants of one particular bay.
The editors have divided their narrative into five sections: 1) Contacts & Exchange, 2) Warfare and Military Expansion, 3) Power & Aristocracy, 4) Belief and Ritual, and 5) Ships & the Vikings, each containing several illustrated essays on subjects ranging from a map of the Viking world to the way of the warrior, from great halls and palaces to the custom of ritual burial.
About the Editors: Gareth Williams is Curator of Early Medieval Coins at the British Museum. Peter Pentz is a Curator of Danish Prehistory at the National Museum of Denmark. Matthias Wemhoff is Director of the Museum fur Vor-und Fruhgeschichte, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin.
Imagined Civilizations -- China, the West, and their First Encounter by Roger Hart, Johns Hopkins UPress '13, 374 pages, ASIN #1421406063. Index, bibliography, three appendices, footnotes, b&w images sprinkled through text.
What, you ask, is an imagined civilization? Well, to the rescue comes author Roger Hart, whose Introduction holds the answer. "'Civilizations' are no less imagined than 'nations,' he writes. "During the later decades of the 20th century, the term 'imagined communities' gained considerable prominence through critical studies of various forms of nationalism. Yet many of these same critical studies reinforced the assumed reality of 'the West.'"
"This book proposes to extend the approach taken in critical studies of nations by applying the term 'imagined' to civilizations, in a similarly critical fashion. To say that civilizations, such as 'China' and 'the West,' are imagined is not to dismiss them as somehow merely fictive and therefore without significance, but rather to suggest an alternative starting point for historical inquiry."
The book's back cover expands upon the definition:
"Accounts of the 17th century Jesuit Mission to China have often celebrated it as the great encounter of two civilizations. The Jesuits portrayed themselves as wise men from the West who used mathematics and science in service of their mission. Chinese literati-official Xu Guangqi (1562-1633), who collaborated with the Italizn Jesuit Matteo Ricci (1552-1610) to translate Euclid's Elements into Chinese, reportedly recognized the superiority of Western mathematics and science and converted to Christianity. Most narratives relegate Xu and the Chinese to subsidiary roles as the Jesuits' translators, followers, and converts. Imagined Civilizations tells the story from the Chinese point of view.
Autohor Roger Hart is director of the Confucius Institute and an associate professor of history at Texas Southern University.
The Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Its Complete History and Applications, Fordham UPress ''14, $30, 424 pages, ASIN #0823252019. Index, bibiography, notes, ten appendices, b&w images sprinkled through text.
A brief summary from the rear cover:
"This new edition of The Twenty-Fifth Amendment: Its Complete History and Applications updates John Feerick's landmark study with the Amendment's uses in the past 20 years and how those uses (along with new legal scholarship) have changed the Amendment and perceptions of presidential disability in general.
"In its formulation, the Twenty-Fifth Amendment was criticized as vague and undemocratic, but it has made possible swift and orderly successions to the highest offices in the U.S. government during some of the most extraordinary events in American history.
"The extent of its authority has been tested over the years: During the Watergate crisis, it was proposed that the Amendment might afforda means by which a President could transfer presidential power during an impeachment proceeding, and it was also suggested that the Amendment could authorize a Vice President and Cabinet to suspend a President during a Senate impeachment trial. Where once presidential disability was stigmatizd, today a president under general anesthesia cedes presidential authority for the length of the procedure with little controversy."
Author John D. Ferrick is Professor at and former Dean of Fordham Law School. In 1964 he was a member of the American Bar Association Conference on Presidential Inability and Vice Presidential Vacancy, the recommendations of which helped shape the Twenty-Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.