Thursday, December 10, 2015

BOOKS YOU SHOULD BUY - Christmas 2015

1. BEVERLY HILLS - African Art and Silicon Chips by Jay Last. This book spans Last's African art collecting years from the 1950's to the present from his perspective. Jay mentions the dealers, collectors, and curators that he met along the way. With this important history of the field Jay has also presents beautiful photographs of the objects he acquired. This book is a personal glimpse into what has motivated one of the most important collectors of this material in the past 65 years. The title says it all its physicist meets the world and its fascinating.Now available on

2.  NEW YORK Custer’s Trials by T. J. Stiles Knopf,It is easy to forget that Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer did anything of significance before the 1876 Battle of Little Bighorn. So gaudily iconic is his last stand—in which he and five companies of his 7th Cavalry Regiment were killed by Native Americans—that it remains the only thing most of us still know about the man. The burden of T.J. Stiles’s epic, ambitious, bursting-at-the-seams biography, “Custer’s Trials,” is to show that for 30-some years preceding Little Bighorn, Custer (1839-76) was shaped by forces every bit as powerful and overwhelming as Sitting Bull’s army of warriors on that infamous summer day. These forces included cultural divisions between the North and the South, a lethal Civil War, similarly lethal westward expansion, and the cluster of postwar developments—rapid industrialization, urbanization and a more centralized federal government—that the historian Alan Trachtenberg once termed “the incorporation of America.” Mr. Stiles, a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer of Cornelius Vanderbilt, scrupulously avoids caricature when discussing his subject. His Custer is neither the raving
buffoon memorialized in Thomas Berger’s novel “Little Big Man” (1964) nor the blindly racist Indian-killer who simply cannot imagine Native Americans capable of defeating the U.S. Army in Evan S. Connell’s beautifully written biography “Son of the Morning Star” (1984). At the same time, he cannot be said to capture the essence of Custer, for the simple reason that there seems to have been little essence to capture. Like a real-life Huckleberry Finn, altering his persona with each snag in the river of events, Custer was adept at becoming who and what circumstances required of him. His unquenchable craving for attention, manifested in garish costumes and a propensity to hobnob with theatrical celebrities, point to an underdeveloped selfhood, a tenuous identity he sought to bolster with acclaim. Born into an unremarkable family in Ohio (his father was a pro-slavery blacksmith perennially in need of money), Custer charmed a prominent local judge into recommending him for West Point. There he drank and gambled and whored, finishing his academic career in disgrace and last in his class. Normally this would have resulted in his being passed over for promotion for the rest of his professional life, but the outbreak of the Civil War and his success on the battlefield enabled him to rise to the brevet rank of major general by the time he was in his mid-20s. Nearly half of Mr. Stiles’s book is devoted to Custer’s career in the Civil War... More

3. NEW YORK The Art of the Con: The Most Notorious Fakes, Frauds, and Forgeries in the Art World Hardcover – July 14, 2015 by Anthony M. Amore
Art scams are today so numerous that the specter of a lawsuit arising from a mistaken attribution has scared a number of experts away from the business of authentication and forgery, and with good reason. Art scams are increasingly convincing and involve incredible sums of money. The cons perpetrated by unscrupulous art dealers and their accomplices are proportionately elaborate.
Anthony M. Amore's The Art of the Con tells the stories of some of history's most notorious yet untold cons. They involve stolen art hidden for decades; elaborate ruses that involve the Nazis and allegedly plundered art; the theft of a conceptual prototype from a well-known artist by his assistant to be used later to create copies; the use of online and television auction sites to scam buyers out of millions; and other confidence ...More

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