The History of Magic: From Alchemy to Witchcraft, from the Ice Age to the Present

Category: Book
By (author): Gosden, Chris
Subject:  HISTORY / General
  HISTORY / World
  SCIENCE / History
  SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
Publisher: Penguin UK
Published: August 2021
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 512
Size: 7.81in x 5.06in
Availability:
Unavailable

Additional Notes

From The Publisher*A Telegraph Book of the Year

A remarkable, unprecedented account of the role of magic in cultures both ancient and modern -- from the first known horoscope to the power of tattoos.


'Fascinating, original, excellent' Simon Sebag Montefiore
______________________

Three great strands of practice and belief run through human history: science, religion and magic. But magic - the idea that we have a connection with the universe - has developed a bad reputation.

It has been with us for millennia - from the curses and charms of ancient Greek, Roman and Jewish magic, to the shamanistic traditions of Eurasia, indigenous America and Africa, and even quantum physics today. Even today seventy-five per cent of the Western world holds some belief in magic, whether snapping wishbones, buying lottery tickets or giving names to inanimate objects.

Drawing on his decades of research, with incredible breadth and authority, Professor Chris Gosden provides a timely history of human thought and the role it has played in shaping civilization, and how we might use magic to rethink our understanding of the world.
______________________

'This is an extraordinary work of learning, written with an exhilarating lightness of touch . . . It is essential reading.' Francis Pryor, author of Britain BC, Britain AD and The Fens

'Without an unfascinating page' Scotsman

'Chris Gosden shows how magic explores the connections between human beings and the universe in ways different from religion or science, yet deserving of respect' Professor John Barton, author of A History of The Bible
Review Quote*Fascinating, original and excellent, written with both narrative flair and deep scholarship, this is a world history, from the steppes of Mongolia to the palaces of London and Paris from prehistory to today, told through the lens of magic, that has always existed alongside and within religion itself, a gripping ride of astonishing span, filled with colourful characters, shaman, witches and kings, esoteric rites and revelatory research. An important and essential read that also happens to be a highly entertaining historical treasure-trove-Simon Sebag Montefiore, author of Jerusalem and The Romanovs

With his own magic touch, Chris Gosden brilliantly reveals the place of magic in human societies from the Ice Age to the present day in all inhabited continents, and shows how the exercise of magic was an everyday practice that joined the world of the dead to that of the living-Professor David Abulafia, author of The Boundless Sea

This is an extraordinary work of learning, written with an exhilarating lightness of touch. And it's flexible: you can read it from cover-to-cover, or just dip in - or both. Chris Gosden has traced the story of magical beliefs from the Old Stone Age to modern times, across all the continents of the world. But it isn't just a work of archaeology and history: it has increasing relevance for our own times, as we witness the growth of extreme cults and the seditious myths of the post-truth era. It is essential reading-Francis Pryor, author of Britain BC, Britain AD and The Fens

The History of Magic is a major contribution to an important but neglected subject. It should be read not only by archaeologists and anthropologists but by everyone interested in the human condition-Barry Cunliffe, author of The Scythians

"To be human is to be connected." Chris Gosden shows how magic explores the connections between human beings and the universe in ways different from religion or science, yet deserving of respect. A magisterial account of the central place of magic in many cultures both ancient and modern-Professor John Barton, author of A History of The Bible

An impressive and much-needed book, Gosden masterfully presents the history of magic from a global perspective, enabling the reader to make fascinating connections between traditions in different places and eras-Violet Moller, author of the Map of Knowledge
Biographical NoteChris Gosden is Professor of European Archaeology at the University of Oxford. Previously he was a curator and lecturer at the Pitt Rivers Museum, Oxford, where he encountered many magical objects, displayed in a scientific manner. Chris is a fellow of the British Academy and the Society of Antiquaries, as well as a trustee of the Art Fund, the British Museum and chair of trustees for Oxford Archaeology. He has written or edited eighteen academic books. This is his first trade book.