Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Can't-Wait Wednesday: A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from History's Most Orthodox Empire by Anthony Kaldellis

Can't-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted at Wishful Endings, to spotlight and talk about the books we're excited about that we have yet to read. It's based on Waiting On Wednesday hosted at Breaking the Spine.



A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities: Strange Tales and Surprising Facts from History's Most Orthodox Empire by Anthony Kaldellis
Expected publication: October 2nd 2017 by Oxford University Press, USA

Weird, decadent, degenerate, racially mixed, superstitious, theocratic, effeminate, and even hyper-literate, Byzantium has long been regarded by many as one big curiosity. According to Voltaire, it represented "a worthless collection of miracles, a disgrace for the human mind" for Hegel it was "a disgusting picture of imbecility."

A Cabinet of Byzantine Curiosities will reinforce these old prejudices, while also stimulating a deeper interest among readers in one of history's most interesting civilizations. Many of the zanier tales and trivia that are collected here revolve around the political and religious life of Byzantium. Thus, stories of saints, relics, and their miracles--from the hilarious to the revolting--abound. Byzantine bureaucracy (whence the adjective "Byzantine"), court scandals, and elaborate penal code are world famous. And what would Byzantium be without its eunuchs, whose ambiguous gender produced odd and risible outcomes in different contexts? The book also contains sections on daily life that are equally eye-opening, including food (from aphrodisiacs to fermented fish sauce), games such as polo and acrobatics, and obnoxious views of foreigners and others (e.g., Germans, Catholics, Arabs, dwarves). But lest we overlook Byzantium's more honorable contributions to civilization, also included are some of the marvels of Byzantine science and technology, from the military (flamethrowers and hand grenades) to the theatrical ("elevator" thrones, roaring mechanical lions) and medical (catheters and cures, some bizarre). This vast assortment of historical anomaly and absurdity sheds vital light on one of history's most obscure and orthodox empires.


This nonfiction sounds super fascinating to me and one I'm especially looking forward to. And the Byzantine Empire has always been really interesting to me. I also really like this cover so definitely need it on my shelves.


15 comments:

  1. It is a great cover! October seems pretty far away though doesn't it!

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    1. Too far! And there are many October releases I'm looking forward to.

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  2. Hi Stephanie, love your blog design and that is one cool book cover.
    Gill x

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  3. That is a gorgeous cover, which I can appreciate even if I am not sure about the book :)

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    1. The cover drew me in first and then I read what it was about. As a lover of history I just gotta read it.

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  4. I almost never see nonfiction on these memes but that really does sound so intriguing! :)

    Stacy Renee @ Lazy Day Literature

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    1. You might see more nonfiction on this meme from me in the future too as it's one of my favorite genres. :)

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  5. OMG this sounds so good! I actually have a BA in History and I especially love studying ancient civilizations. Not only am I going to add this to my TRB list but I'm adding it to my Must Buy when it comes out list! I'm so glad I stopped by your blog and discovered what sounds like an awesome read! Great choice this week :)

    Crystal Book Snob

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    1. Eeeeep! I'm such a geek for history, especially ancient civilizations. I'm so glad you could discover this book here. It does sound so amazing, doesn't it? :D

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  6. What a beautiful cover! I hope you enjoy this book!

    Here’s my WoW!

    Ronyell @ Rabbit Ears Book Blog

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  7. I love learning about these kinds of things but never seem to get around to it. It sounds really interesting though, so I hope you get to enjoy it.

    My CWW: https://tsundokubooks.blogspot.com/2017/07/cant-wait-wednesday-tower-of-dawn.html

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  8. Ok, I don't read much non-fiction, but this book piqued my curiosity! I think it could be a mesmerising read, and that is actually what I'm wishing for you when you get the chance to read it! :D

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  9. How interesting that you're featuring a nonfiction book on this meme, Stephanie! This is very rare indeed! I love to read nonfiction, but only feature it on my other blog, "MindSpirit Book Journeys". On "A Night's Dream of Books", it's strictly fiction, whether YA or other genres, but I have a lot of YA.

    This book looks like a HIGHLY FASCINATING one!! I'm adding it to my Goodreads shelves at once! I need to read more history, so this one will be a great addition to my shelves!

    Thanks for sharing!! Also, thanks for commenting on my CWW post!! Have a WONDERFUL weekend!! <3 <3 <3 :) :) :)

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  10. I don't read a lot of nonfiction but this one does sound intriguing. And I agree about the cover. It's one of the most gorgeous covers I've seen this year.

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