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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them. The blog, however, will continue, and if you've got a good first line to share for TwitterLit please do so here.



  
From a random review:

  

« Fuchs, Michael Stephen: The Manuscript | Main | Abrahamson, Eric; Freedman, David H.: A Perfect Mess »

O'Malley, Christine; Creadon, Patrick: Wordplay

  

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St. Martin's Griffin © 2006, 176 pages [amazon]
4.5 stars

Wordplay is the companion book to the 2006 documentary of the same name. It was written by Christine O'Malley and Patrick Creadon, respectively the movie's producer and director. Will Shortz,the crossword editor of the New York Times (and "the Errol Flynn of crossword puzzling" according to Jon Stewart), contributes a foreword, and the book features interviews with a number of people who appeared in the film--crossword constructors and celebrity cruciverbalists and contestants in the 2005 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. The book's 12 brief chapters include a thumbnail history of crossword puzzles and discussions of, among other topics, Will Shortz's tenure at the Times, crossword puzzle construction, and the 2006 Sundance Film Festival at which the documentary premiered. I have not yet seen the movie, so I can't say for certain how much of the information in the book rehashes what appears on film, but much of it appears to be new--a number of those featured in the book discuss their reaction to seeing the film, for example, and crossword constructor Merl Reagle writes about the process of creating a puzzle for the film.

The text of the book reads very quickly, but finishing the 50 puzzles that are included in Wordplay will be the work of weeks, if not months.The text of the book reads very quickly, but finishing the 50 puzzles that are included in Wordplay will be the work of weeks, if not months. And it's the puzzles, for each of which a little background is supplied, that make Wordplay a book you'll want to own. Among the crosswords included in the book are:

• The first puzzle Will Shortz published in the New York Times
• The first puzzle Shortz edited for the Times--a puzzle which, we're told, "caused quite a stir, because it couldn't be completely solved with an ordinary pencil"
• The first crossword puzzle ever published (in 1913)
• Samples of puzzles edited by Shortz's three predecessors at the Times, Margaret Farrar, Will Weng, and Eugene Maleska
• The "Wordplay" puzzle that was created for and featured in the movie
• The 1998 puzzle, "Engagement," which was written for Manhattan attorney Bill Gottlieb and concealed in its answers Bill's marriage proposal to his girlfriend
• The ingenious Clinton/Dole puzzle that was published on Election Day in 1996
• The eight puzzles that contestants were set at the 2005 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament, with directions for scoring your solution

Plus a lot more. In short, the book is a treasure trove of historically interesting puzzles. If you've been solving the New York Times puzzle religiously for decades, you may have seen all of this before. But for many of us relative newcomers to cruciverbalism, Wordplay is a great source for some of the best puzzles ever constructed.

Review summary: Wordplay is the companion book to the 2006 documentary of the same name, written by the movie's producer and director. Will Shortz contributes a foreword. The book's 12 chapters feature interviews with some of the people who appeared in the film and discussions of, for example, Shortz's tenure at the Times, puzzle construction, and the 2006 Sundance Film Festival at which the documentary premiered. The text of the book reads quickly, but finishing the 50 puzzles that are included in Wordplay will take considerably longer. And it's the puzzles that make Wordplay a book you'll want to own: it is a treasure trove of historically interesting crosswords. If you've been solving the Times puzzle for decades, there may be nothing new here. But for us relative newcomers to cruciverbalism, Wordplay is a great source for some of the best puzzles ever constructed.

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.