Reviews for Skulls : An Exploration of Alan Dudley's Curious Collection

Library Journal Reviews 2012 October #2

This eye-catching catalog of British collector Alan Dudley's animal skulls, which originally appeared as an iPad application in December 2011, is a wonderful addition to the field of natural history. Prolific author Winchester (Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories) deftly handles both history and science as he surveys Dudley's titular "curious collection," which is beautifully photographed with each entry annotated by a descriptive paragraph and classification information. Interspersed among the images are brief essays on topics from the iconography of the skull to the skull in Mexico. The primarily black pages set off the striking images and accompanying text. VERDICT Highly recommended for curious readers of nonfiction, especially those unafraid of the macabre. A delight.--Eric D. Albright, Tufts Univ. Libs., Boston

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 October #4

Digging deep into Alan Dudley's collection of more than 2,000 skulls, Winchester (The Professor and the Madman) and photographer Mann highlight the rarest and most unusual of the vaunted cranium connoisseur's world-class assortment (which is housed cozily in a spare upstairs bedroom in his home in England). Grouping the skulls according to species, Winchester enthusiastically educates armchair osteologists on the peculiarities of key subspecies, enabling readers, should the need arise, to tell a long-nosed bandicoot from a southern brown bandicoot, the bizarrely horned babirusa from a warthog, or the fearsome (and extinct) saber-toothed cat from a modern (endangered) tiger. Though some, like the hard-to-find elephant skull, are replicas, the vast majority are the real thing, including that of the extinct dodo bird. Winchester rounds out the book with various essays on topics such as the use of skulls in artwork, phrenology, and other related subjects with varying degrees of success. Prone to wordiness, he's at his best offering short takes on his subjects or tips on DIY skull collecting. Mann's crisp, reverential photography more than makes up for the volume's literary shortcomings, making this one coffee-table book that's hard to resist. Agent: Suzanne Gluck, William Morris Endeavor. (Oct.)

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