Monday, 21 December 2009

Christmas presents for history enthusiasts

If you have not yet done all your Christmas shopping and are stuck for ideas, here are our suggestions of some of the best historically themed presents...

Elizabethan Architecture: Its Rise and Fall, 1540-1640, Mark Girouard (Yale University Press, £45)
'The coffee-table book in excelsis, this beautifully designed and illustrated volume is the fruit of almost half a century’s learning by the pre-eminent scholar of Elizabethan (and Jacobean) architecture. It provides remarkable insights into the social structure that gave birth to the great houses of England, examining the foreign influences as well as the way that architects called on native English traditions. What is most wonderful is that these ‘speaking buildings’, as Girouard calls them, still exist, in superb condition, and can be visited once one has consumed Girouard’s offering: Robert Smythson’s Hardwick Hall, William Arnold’s work at Wadham College, Oxford and John Thorpe’s Aston Hall. The latter has particular resonance for me because it was in the shade of the recently and magnificently refurbished Aston Hall that I used to munch on sandwiches and crisps before heading in to Villa Park, literally on the other side of the road, to watch football. This is a book to return to again and again, to luxuriate in its magnificence just as one does with its subject matter. Girouard makes us realise that Elizabethan and Jacobean architecture rivals the literature of the time in its brilliance. And at £45, this book is a bargain.' (Paul Lay)

'An annual subscription to the London Library costs £395 (only £200 if you’re 16-24) so is probably more than most people want to spend on a Christmas present just now, but a day pass costing £10, or a weekly pass at £30, offer a wonderful opportunity to spend some time browsing the shelves of this historic library in the centre of London.' (Sheila Corr)

'Of the many historically-themed Christmas gifts one could give or receive, top of the pops is quite obviously a subscription to History Today. I received my first 12 issues from my grandparents as a teenager, and remember the pleasure each month of delving into digestible slices of 'grown up' history ahead of my class mates. The rest as they say is history! Over the years I've given many subscriptions as presents to friends and family, young and old, a hit every time.' (Charlotte Crow)

Che – Part One and Two – The Complete Story (DVD)
'This DVD set makes an excellent present for anyone with an interest in Latin American history. For those who saw the films in cinemas at the beginning of last year, and for those who did not, both Steven Soderbergh’s films can be seen over and over again. They are fast-paced, full of suspense and highly entertaining with excellent performances by Benicio del Toro as Guevara. They provide a good introduction to the Cuban revolution and raise many questions about the legacy of Guevara and the accuracy of the image which they put forward. Guevara’s memoirs, Reminiscences of the Cuban Revolutionary War and The Bolivian Diary of Ernesto Che Guevara would make a good complement to the DVD set for a slightly larger gift.' (Kathryn Hadley)

No comments:

Blog Directory