The total of my cipher mystery books purchases for 2017 was £260, which was actually a little lower than recent years (it’s been fairly quiet). For a change this year, I thought I’d list them here in all their eclectic glory.
I’ve lightly annotated each of these cipher mystery books, to cast a little glancing light on the areas of research I’ve been working on. Make of them all what you will!
* The Palaeography of Gothic Manuscript Books: From the Twelfth to the Early Sixteenth Century (Cambridge Studies in Palaeography and Codicology), by Albert Derolez.
Magisterial yet accessible, a really great book on Gothic palaeography. Of course, you then have to try it out in the field for a decade to be any good at it, but… palaeography is what it is. 😉
* A Man of Misconceptions: The Life of an Eccentric in an Age of Change, by John Glassie
Basically, the best-known modern biography of Athanasius Kircher. Perhaps a bit too generous towards its subject in places for my tastes, but it certainly covers all the ground. My focus when I bought this was on the people who carried on Kircher’s legacy, which turned out to be a very small group indeed.
* Regiomontanus: His Life and Work: Volume 1, by Ernst Zinner
Epic, detailed, stunning evocation of Regiomontanus. I’ve long wanted to read this, but until this year (when I found myself wanting to know whether Regiomontanus might have seen Vat. Gr. 1291 when it arrived in Rome), I could never quite justify the cost. Regardless, it turns out that it’s well worth the money – recommended.
Nice little book on Australia’s surprising war-time cryptology effort, something that tends to get trampled by gung-ho American cryptology historians. And no, it’s not all about Eric Nave (he actually plays a surprisingly small part in this account).
* Comment ils ont trouvé un trésor, by Alain Cloarec
Fairly lightweight, but helped me understand some of the practicalities of French treasure hunting law. But that’s another story…
* Maps, Mystery and Interpretation: 2. The Mystery: Oak Island Speculation: Volume 2, by G. J. Bath
* Maps, Mystery and Interpretation: 3. Interpretation: Sizing Up the Money Pit: Volume 3, by G. J. Bath
* Anson’s Gold: and the Secret to Captain Kidd’s Charts, by George Edmunds
* The Sirius Mystery: New Scientific Evidence for Alien Contact, by Robert K.G. Temple
Cipher Mysteries commenter Astronomical challenged me to read this, to make up my own mind about Temple’s Sirius theories (though on 1st April, so it’s hard to be sure). However… now that it has arrived, I just haven’t been able to get excited enough to actually pick it up, so it’s still waiting patiently on my bookshelf.
* The Templars: The Secret History Revealed, by Barbara Frale
Oh my, what an excellent little book this is. Anyone wanting to read about the Templars should start here. Highly recommended!
* Playing the Numbers: Gambling in Harlem between the Wars, by Shane White, Stephen Garton, Dr. Stephen Robertson, and Graham White
Very interesting book on the subculture of gambling that I touched on in my blog.
* Ella Minnow Pea: A Novel in Letters, by Mark Dunn,
Funky littl novl that msss around with th problms of writing whn crtain lttrs ar not allowd to b usd. 😉
* Generation of Vipers, by Philip Wylie
The book that Paul Rubin was supposed to be a follower of. Interesting (and surprisingly influential) mid-20th century nonsense.
* The Devil’s Chessboard: Allen Dulles, the CIA, and the Rise of America’s Secret Government, by Talbot, David
Another book triggered by the release of the FBI papers concerning Paul Rubin: I wanted to know more about Allen Dulles (whose surname seems to appear in Paul Rubin’s cipher, or is at least in his covertext).
* Sleepwalkers, by Arthur Koestler
A readable (but now rather dated) account of the development of astronomy.
I wanted to know more about Domenico de’ Domenichi (who owned Vat. Gr. 1291), and this is probably the best book on the subject out there.
* The Renaissance in Rome, by Charles L. Stinger
I bought this to cast a light on what was going on in Rome circa 1460-1470, where some of my secondary Voynich research paths are now starting to vaguely lead towards.
* French Painting in the Time of Jean de Berry, by Millard Meiss
Splendidly detailed book, but don’t buy it expecting lots of extraordinary pictures, it’s mainly fine-detailed history. 🙂
* Solution of the Voynich Manuscript, by Leo Levitov
I’ve been meaning to buy a copy of this for myself for ages, and finally got round to it. However, I couldn’t bring myself to pony up the far greater amount for Joseph Martin Feely’s “Roger Bacon’s Cipher; The Right Key Found”, so if anyone just happens to have a digital copy of that, please let me know. 😉
* From Magic to Science: Essays on the Scientific Twilight, by Charles Singer.
Though I’ve ordered this, it hasn’t yet arrived. This was prompted by an updated page on Rene Zandbergen’s site which quotes Erwin Panofsky’s thoughts on the Voynich Manuscript in a less abbreviated form than has been the case.