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Skulls: An Exploration of Alan Dudley's Curious Collectionby Simon Winchester and Nick Mann
Synopses & Reviews
Skulls is a spellbinding exploration of more than 300 different animal skulls — amphibians, birds, fish, mammals, and reptiles — written by New York Times bestselling author, Simon Winchester.
At the center of Skulls is a stunning, never-before-seen-in-any-capacity, visual array of the skulls of more than 300 animals that walk, swim, and fly. The skulls are from the collection of Alan Dudley, a British collector and owner of what is probably the largest and most complete private collection of skulls in the world. Every skull is beautifully photographed to show off its most fascinating features and to give the reader the most intimate view possible. Where possible, cross-sections and additional angles are also shown. Along with the imagery, each skull includes a short explanatory essay, taxonomy, biological data, skull details, comparative skeletal anatomy, and other pertinent information. The text is written by bestselling and internationally renowned author, Simon Winchester, and covers the story of Alan Dudley and his collection, as well as the biology, history, and iconography of skulls throughout the world. Includes 550 highest-quality, visually arresting photographs throughout.
"Digging deep into Alan Dudley's collection of more than 2,000 skulls, Winchester (The Professor and the Madman) and photographer Mann highlight the rarest and most unusual of the vaunted cranium connoisseur's world-class assortment (which is housed cozily in a spare upstairs bedroom in his home in England). Grouping the skulls according to species, Winchester enthusiastically educates armchair osteologists on the peculiarities of key subspecies, enabling readers, should the need arise, to tell a long-nosed bandicoot from a southern brown bandicoot, the bizarrely horned babirusa from a warthog, or the fearsome (and extinct) saber-toothed cat from a modern (endangered) tiger. Though some, like the hard-to-find elephant skull, are replicas, the vast majority are the real thing, including that of the extinct dodo bird. Winchester rounds out the book with various essays on topics such as the use of skulls in artwork, phrenology, and other related subjects with varying degrees of success. Prone to wordiness, he's at his best offering short takes on his subjects or tips on DIY skull collecting. Mann's crisp, reverential photography more than makes up for the volume's literary shortcomings, making this one coffee-table book that's hard to resist. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, William Morris Endeavor." Publishers Weekly
"As an author Simon Winchester (The Professor and the Madman; Krakatoa) might be said to be a collector of scientific curios and natural oddities. In Alan Dudley, he might have encountered his ideal subject. The British taxidermist indulged his obsession with collecting animal remains to the point of being imprisoned for breaking international bans on imported good. Fortunately, we don't have to get locked up to enjoy Dudley's finds. This splendid collection of reproductions of more than 300 human and animal skulls is accompanied by Winchester's fascinating commentary on historical, biographical, scientific, taxonomy, and cultural aspects. (P.S. Skulls was first released last year as a iPad app, in which form it attracted a wide, appreciative audience.)" Barnes & Noble.com
"This eye-catching catalog of British collector Alan Dudley's animal skulls, which originally appeared as an iPad application in December 2011, is a wonderful addition to the field of natural history. Prolific author Winchester (Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories) deftly handles both history and science as he surveys Dudley's titular "curious collection," which is beautifully photographed with each entry annotated by a descriptive paragraph and classification information. Interspersed among the images are brief essays on topics from the iconography of the skull to the skull in Mexico. The primarily black pages set off the striking images and accompanying text. VERDICT Highly recommended for curious readers of nonfiction, especially those unafraid of the macabre. A delight." Library Journal
"Grouping the skulls according to species, Winchester enthusiastically educates armchair osteologists on the peculiarities of key subspecies, enabling readers, should the need arise, to tell a long-nosed bandicoot from a southern brown bandicoot, the bizarrely horned babirusa from a warthog, or the fearsome (and extinct) saber-toothed cat from a modern (endangered) tiger." Publishers Weekly
At the center of Skulls is a stunning, never-before-seen-in-any-capacity, visual array of the skulls of more than 300 animals that walk, swim, and fly. The skulls are from the collection of Alan Dudley, a British collector and owner of what is probably the largest and most complete private collection of skulls in the world. Every skull is beautifully photographed to show several angles and to give the reader the most intimate view possible. Each includes a short explanatory paragraph and a data box with information on the animal's taxonomy, behavior, and diet.
About the Author
Simon Winchester is the bestselling author of The Professor and the Madman, The Map that Changed the World, Krakatoa, A Crack in the Edge of the World and more than a dozen other books. His work has appeared in Conde Nast Traveler, Smithsonian, National Geographic and elsewhere. Mr. Winchester was made Officer of the Order of British Empire (OBE) by HM The Queen in 2006. He lives in New York City and Massachusetts.
Nick Mann is a freelance photographer working in Central Illinois. Aside from having photographed more elements than probably anyone in the world, he is an accomplished landscape, sports, and event photographer.
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