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Skulls: An Exploration of Alan Dudley's Curious Collection

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Skulls: An Exploration of Alan Dudley's Curious Collection Cover

ISBN13: 9781579129125
ISBN10: 1579129129
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Review:

"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

Synopsis:

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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Ann Littlewood, December 1, 2012 (view all comments by Ann Littlewood)
This hardcover is a beautiful collection of Nick Mann's photos of skulls that were prepared by a private collector, Alan Dudley. Dudley came to Winchester's attention after getting busted buying an illegal howler monkey skull. He pleaded guilty, did his service and paid his fine, and the implication is that he isn't normally one to slip up in this way. (Replicas of many species are readily available, by the way.) Dudley gets almost all of his skulls from zoos.

Among this book's virtues are a plethora of bird, fish and reptile skulls. Photographs of mammal skulls are widely available as they are the taxonomic touchstone for mammals. The others, not so much. Partly they are less common because (I know from trying) fish and reptile skulls can be the very devil to prepare.

Of special interest: a great assortment of hornbills, odd and fragile skulls of venomous snakes, wild pigs with their seemingly self-destructive curving tusks. Be sure to take a look at the domestic dog skulls and consider what we have done to the sturdy wolf.

Most of the photos are by Nick Mann, who has done great work on other Workman Publishing science books as well, and most are excellent. Many of the smaller skulls are out of focus, however. Printing the images against a black background works very well for most skulls, but much detail is lost for black bird bills (such as the Northern Shoveler) and the black horns of some bovids.The photo of Holbein's large painting The Ambassadors lacks details discussed in the text. Most of these weaknesses are demerits for the printer, not the author or photographer.

The photos are interspersed with text about skulls in art, history, human evolution, etc. These are interesting, written for a non-technical audience, but this is primarily a visual book and a beautiful addition to the natural history library.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9781579129125
Subtitle:
An Exploration of Alan Dudley's Curious Collection
Author:
Simon Winchester and Nick Mann
Photographer:
Mann, Nick
Author:
Winchester, Simon
Publisher:
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers
Subject:
General science
Subject:
Science Reference-General
Edition Description:
Hardback
Publication Date:
20121031
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Pages:
256
Dimensions:
10 x 10 x 0.88 in 3.03 lb

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Skulls: An Exploration of Alan Dudley's Curious Collection Sale Hardcover
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$12.98 In Stock
Product details 256 pages Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers - English 9781579129125 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "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
"Review" by , "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.)"
"Review" by , "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."
"Review" by , "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."
"Synopsis" by , 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.
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