Thursday, October 2, 2014

History Corner / Book Review: The Stonehenge Letters by Harry Karlinsky


Disclosure / Disclaimer: I received this ebook, free of charge, from Edelweiss, for review purposes on this blog. No other compensation, monetary or in kind, has been received or implied for this post. Nor was I told how to post about it


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Have a History Buff in the family?

Someone fascinated with the lore of Stonehenge?

I've got a book for you to give them this holiday season!


The Stonehenge Letters cover

Synopsis:

While researching why Freud failed to win a Nobel Prize at the Nobel Archives in Sweden, a psychiatrist makes an unusual discovery. Among the piles of papers in the 'Crackpot' file are letters addressed to the executor of Alfred Nobel's will, written by several notable Nobel laureates — including Rudyard Kipling and Marie Curie — each offering an explanation of why and how Stonehenge was constructed. Diligent research uncovers that Alfred Nobel added a secret codicil to his will, a prize for the Nobel laureate who solves the mystery of Stonehenge.

Weaving together a wealth of primary sources — photos, letters, wills — The Stonehenge Letters tells the tale of a fascinating secret competition.

Review:

This is a very quick read, at only 256 pages, but it is literally a FOUNTAIN overflowing of information! The lure of the Stongehenge contest pulled me into the title (as did the excellent attention getting cover!), and I was amazed by how much I did not know about the Nobel Prize, and Alfred Nobel himself. It actually was a 'couldn't put it down' read! The author doesn't bore the reader with historical details- he breathes life into them, and makes the story read like a modern romance novel of six degrees of separation! Who knew Madame Currie led such a varied life! And to be the ONLY double Nobel Prize winner- girl power indeed! 

I was actually stunned to realize that of all the GREAT minds who won the Nobel Prize in it's first 10 years, only 4 winners took on the secret contest. The theories they put forth were so different, and indicative of their ways of thinking. Yet in hindsight, they can all be put together, to put together a proper look at Stongehenge itself. Much of what they proposed was later deemed to be fact, so in many ways, their contest brought some forward thinking! While the end to the contest was disquieting in some ways, it also seemed apt and inevitable!

This is a great historical read, that will leave you wondering about the era of such great intellect, and if we will ever have such an era again, so in many ways it is also a social commentary! I recommend it for all history lovers!


About the Author:

Harry Karlinsky is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia. His first novel, The Evolution of Inanimate Objects(HarperCollins UK), was longlisted for the Wellcome Trust Book Prize. Check out his website for more.

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