Seventeenth Century Europe

In Search of Sir Thomas Browne

August 4, 2015

There are times when the book I read isn’t the book I think it’s going to be.* This happened to me recently with science writer Hugh Aldersey-Williams’ In Search of Sir Thomas Browne. I expected a biography. And I had Browne confused with someone else altogether, though I am no longer sure who. Possibly Robert […]

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Eye of the Beholder

April 4, 2015

  In Eye of the Beholder, philosopher and historian Laura J. Snyder uses the parallel lives of painter Johannes Vermeer and clothier turned scientist Antoni van Leeuwenhoek to illustrate the critical role played by optical lenses in the Scientific Revolution of the seventeenth century, with its new emphasis on empirical observation. Direct observation as a […]

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Re-Run: Word With A Past: Kidnap

May 22, 2014

I’m dipping into the archives again, because I’m in over my head here at the Margins. (So much so that I didn’t even celebrate the blog’s 3 year anniversary on May 11. Hmmmm….) We move on June 2 and to say we are not yet ready is an understatement. Too much to do, not enough […]

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How Paris Became Paris

March 21, 2014

In How Paris Became Paris: The Invention of the Modern City, historian Joan DeJean (The Age of Comfort) argues that the real transformation occurred two centuries earlier, when Henri IV set out to rebuild a city that had been ravaged by Catholic and Protestant alike during the thirty-six years of the Wars of Religion. In […]

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Blood Royal: A Medieval CSI Team In Action

March 15, 2014

In Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris, medievalist Eric Jager returns to the world of medieval true crime stories that he popularized in The Last Duel. On a cold night in November, 1407, a band of masked men assassinated Louis of Orleans, the powerful and unpopular brother of the […]

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