Fantastic journeys: backward and inwardAnyone who has viewed the captivating and informative programs on the Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, or Animal Planet is familiar with their quality camera work, matchless beauty, and authoritative content. Now, these fast-growing cable networks have joined together in a new venture with Random House, Inc. to take readers on many more exciting journeys of discovery. This unique partnership will produce books based upon scheduled television specials as well as other projects.
The first two titles now ready for spring 1999 are Cleopatra's Palace: In Search of a Legend, based on a March special hosted by The Discovery Channel, and Intimate Universe: The Human Body, an eight-part television series from The Learning Channel.
Cleopatra VII is the Egyptian queen with whom most people are familiar. The story of her love affairs with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony are legendary, as is her untimely death in 30 BC. Cleopatra's Palace by Laura Foreman begins our first journey with the founding of Alexandria by Alexander the Great and traces the young queen's ascent to the Egyptian throne amid treachery and betrayal. The recent discovery of her palace by underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio has succeeded in mapping the Royal Quarter of ancient Alexandria, now submerged beneath the Mediterranean by cataclysmic earthquakes. This is a lavishly illustrated volume with over 200 full-color photos and drawings. A blend of history, legend, and modern exploration which journeys back in time, it documents the challenge of underwater archaeology. Goddio's expedition uncovers the sunken remains of Cleopatra's palace and displays recently discovered artifacts in pages filled with maps and fine art depictions of the life of Egypt's last pharaoh. The second journey is closer to home. Did you know that if the body's network of blood vessels were placed end to end, they would stretch for 60,000 miles? Did you know that scientists estimate that it takes 200,000 frowns to make a brow line? Intimate Universe by Anthony Smith (Discovery Books, $35, 0679462511) has been published to coincide with The Learning Channel's eight-part televised series airing in April and August. This expedition takes place in the least traveled part of the universe the human body and it promises to be (quite literally) the trip of a lifetime. Exploring each stage of our physical selves, the Intimate Universe takes us from birth to death. Even though we are closer to this hidden landscape, we are, for the most part, ignorant of the intricate processes that play out within ourselves each day. Smith documents the week-by-week account of the unfolding of a new life developing inside its mother, and answers questions we've all asked: how can a baby, a separate and genetically different human being, be created, but not rejected by a mother's body? Why can a young child learn languages more easily than an adult? Why does the body break down in old age? How has our brain made us the most successful species on the planet?Supporting the author's narrative are 150 full-color illustrations, computer-generated images, and state-of-the-art microphotography. Intimate Universe is a valuable addition to the family reference library and will take your family on one of the most intriguing journeys of their lives. Discovery Books has only begun to offer readers informative guides for the family bookshelves. In July, they will release the first four titles in a new series of nature handbooks that deliver the same acclaimed content of Discovery Channel programming. The series gives practical advice for learning about each subject firsthand and includes these titles: Birds, Night Sky, Rocks and Minerals, and Weather. Each book is organized into three sections: background information, how-to advice, and field identification guide. These handy, affordable guides contain more than 300 full-color photos and illustrations to increase your enjoyment of your continuing journey through life.
Pat Regel is a reviewer in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee.