"A much-needed literary protest against modern and ancient historical revisionism.”
"Throat-grabbing, pedal-to-the-metal pacing...Levin captivates the reader with both plausibility and imagination. The Last Ember is a prize to be savored."
—New York Times best-selling author Steve Berry
Last August the DNA within the bones found beneath a layer of concrete in an England parking lot confirmed that the former King was laid to rest there once upon a time. Thing is, no one has agreed upon anything since. He was clearly buried with great haste and no ceremony, having been crammed into an uneven hole without a coffin or tokens for the afterlife. The man died on a battlefield. Perhaps the battle was happening still, and the urgency of ceremonial burial is likely outweighed by the urgency of getting the hell out of there if you’re on the losing team and are still somehow whole.
There again, there may be proof that the King’s hands were bound by rope in the pit, in which case pomp was even more – entirely! – out of the question . . .
Probably not. The “White City” of legend, if it ever existed at all, sits below thick untouched canopy in the Mosquitia region of Honduras, where walking around with digging equipment and a compass will do an archaeologist no good. This is where Steve Elkins, an amateur explorer and film maker, appeals to professionals pining for the discovery of La Ciudad Blanca: He has helped secure enough monetary backing to employ LiDAR (airborne light detection and ranging), at the price of $1.5m, for one of the first times in the history of field research.
What they found was a digitally animated promise that something manmade exists there. Could this be the settlement that eluded Cortes? Mr. Elkins thinks so. He’s so certain, he’s making a documentary as the facts begin unfolding . . .
Back in February, the embattled bones of former King of England, Richard III, were found under the concrete of a parking lot in Leicester, in the East Midlands of that country.
Never let anyone say otherwise. There is no shortage of literary fodder for the historically inclined. You may walk right over it on your way to the grocery store.
Time goes fast these days, and news comes just as quick — sometimes only four thousand years after the fact. This just in: Researchers have found a man made stone burial site twice the size of Stonehenge underwater in the Sea of Galilee. Question is, what’s it doing there?
Remember the Black Death? The disease that killed at least a third of Europe and set in motion the social and economic changes that eventually ended the Middle Ages?
Turns out it’s still around.
The Black Death hit Europe and other parts of the world every century or so after its first appearance; it even hit India in the early twentieth century. But it has gotten less and less virulent over the centuries. Maybe because it’s gotten weaker, maybe because it mutated, maybe because most people now have resistance to it. But this study shows strong evidence that the current bubonic plague is indeed the same one that devastated the medieval world.
That’s right – the Black Death is still out there.
The 5.8 magnitude earthquake that struck the Eastern Seaboard yesterday thankfully caused minimal injuries and fairly little damage, but not everything got off scot-free. One of the quake’s victims was the Washington Monument, which suffered apparently minor cracking at its very top.
The Monument is closed for the moment while the Parks Service investigates and repairs the damage, but it doesn’t sound too serious.
Other monuments in the past haven’t been so lucky. A few severe earthquakes early in the last millennium heavily damaged the Great Lighthouse and left it a heap of rubble. It had already stood for well over a thousand years, which is a pretty good run. The Colossus, another one of the ancient Wonders of the World, didn’t last nearly so long – an earthquake toppled it less than a hundred years after its construction. The Mausoleum’s destruction is less clear, but an earthquake seems the likely culprit as well. Likewise for the Hanging Gardens (if they existed!).
Only three Wonders escaped death by earthquake – the Statue of Zeus and the Temple of Artemis were both burned and looted. And the Pyramids, of course, still stand.
In the Talk of the Town on August 8th (New Yorker subscription required), Nick Paumgarten wrote about very, very vintage trunks found beneath Stuy Town. Tenants have been storing their luggage beneath the complex since the 1940s, and for whatever reason, most of them are still there even though the tenants have moved on or, mostly, passed away.
The trunks are a relic of an earlier time; Paumgarten mentions Cunard line stickers and grand hotels, memories of the era of transoceanic liners that dominated before jets.
The new owners of Stuy Town want to clean out the trunks and use the dozens of storage areas for something more valuable. Maybe, if the tenants let them get away with it, they’ll hawk the trunks on Storage Wars and some enterprising individual will buy a complete cut of Metropolis, or the truth behind where the Nazis found the Holy Lance.
Or maybe they’ll just find musty old clothes and sixty year old advertisements – but isn’t that something, too?
Deadline Hollywood just posted a new teaser trailer for Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, based on the fantastic 1974 John le Carré thriller. Check it out:
The movie, starring Gary Oldman and a number of great British actors, comes out on November 18th. Tinker Tailor is one of my favorite le Carré novels, and so far this looks like it will be a great adaptation.