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Marie Antoinette's Head
The Royal Hairdresser, the Queen, and the Revolution
Will Bashor


Editor’s note: Leonard Autie died in Paris on March 24, 1820. Click here to read more about Will Bashor’s Marie Antoinette’s Head (Lyons Press), a book Kirkus Reviews calls “An informative examination of a little-known player on a great stage. An entertaining, well-researched work.”

Leonard Autie, hairdresser to Marie Antoinette, would have been trained in the art of hairdressing in southern France in the mid 1760’s. It is documented that he practiced his craft in Montpellier and Bordeaux, but his creative genius was unable to win over the matronly bourgeois ladies of these provincial cities. To find his fame and fortune, the young coiffeur then journeyed to Paris on foot, arriving in 1769 with nothing but a tortoise shell comb in his pocket and a “big bundle of vanity.”

The question arises, if hairdressing was highly regulated by the Parisian guild, what was Leonard’s competitive advantage over the master hairdressers of the capital city at the time. To answer this, we begin with the theory behind l’art de coiffure.

According to the manuals of the guild, hairdressers first learned that cutting hair was the science of giving natural hair its form by removing irregularities in length and cropping in stages, all the while enhancing the face— the true art of the hairdresser.[1] Therefore, to practice hairdressing the coiffeur would first cut the hair according to the client’s features and then finish by curling and powdering.

Cutting the Hair
The professional (male) coiffeur would start by combing the entire head of hair MA 2athoroughly to remove any tangles. Then using his wood, tortoise shell or gold comb (Fig. 1), he would begin at the top of the head and comb one portion or row of hair at a time, combing gently straight down or to the side, depending on whether the hair was to be cut straight or angled. When the comb was near the end of the hair, the hair was cut underneath the comb with half-closed scissors (Fig 2). Cutting the hair to the desired length was continued with the rest of the hair, but the top rows of hair were required to be shorter than the lower rows.

MA 1(Note: When styling a wig, one would follow the same rules that govern natural hair. Care had to be taken not to cut the wig too short so that it could completely cover all the natural hair below. Also, it was necessary to cut the hair und erneath the wig to avoid any unpleasant thickness or bumpiness. Since there were no precise rules for wigs, the coiffeur relied on his best judgment when styling them.)

Curling the Hair
After the hair was properly cut, one ordinarily wrapped the hair in curling papers, heated the packets with curling arms, and finished with powder. However, this process required special instruments and materials which were used in a certain order and manner.

curling-papersFirst, small pieces of paper were cut into small triangles, preferably using gray paper or blotting paper because they tear easily. Gathering a small portion of the hair with the comb and holding it with the first two fingers of one hand around the middle, the coiffeur would then roll the hair in a curl and immediately envelope it with the curling paper. This was the loop curl (Fig. 3).

Another type of curl was the crepe (Fig. 4), which was preferable for short hair on the top of the head.  The crepe was created by taking the strand of hair and twisting it in the curling paper to avoid the hole found in the middle of the loop curl.

MA
 5Once the whole head was covered with rolling papers, it was time to use the curling irons. The coiffeur used two kinds of curling irons. One was a clip with two flat jaws of equal thickness (Fig. 5), and the other resembled scissors (Fig. 6). The irons were heated in the fire, not on the coals. The desired temperature was achieved if the iron did not scorch a curling paper or by testing the heat near the cheek. When ready, the curling papers with hair were heated by the iron for a few moments. Another iron would be heated while curling since the irons did not hold their heat too long.[2] With a full head of curling papers, it was necessary to heat several irons. figure 6

Once the curling papers were all cooled, they were removed and all the locks of curled hair were then combed together. Then the coiffeur would ordinarily gracefully arrange the curls around the forehead and the temples. If needed, the curling iron resembling scissors was used to reinforce any unwieldy curls.

 

If the hair appeared too thick in places, it was necessary to thin it by holding several strands of hair with the fingers and cutting them near the roots with the slightly-opened sciss ors. This would give a light and pleasing appearance to the curly hair. For hair that appeared too unwieldy, strong pomade, the best being beechnut wax, was mixed with a touch of powder, melted in the hands, and applied to the roots of the hair to give it consistency.

Powdering the Hair
MA 2Once the curls were arranged to satisfaction, the only task left was to powder the hair. The best powder for the hair was made of wheat flour and was kept in an iron cup or sheepskin pouch (Figs. 7 and 8).

The best puffs used to powder hair were made ​​with long bristles from the top of the heads of geese (Fig. 9). To powder, the coiffeur coated his hands with pomade and lightly waxed the curls. Then he lightly dipped his puff in the powder; this small quantity was sufficient for dusting the hair and highlighting the cut and curls.

MA 9For fear that the clients would get powder on their face and in their eyes, the coiffeur took the precaution of protecting them with a mask (Fig. 10).

Leonard, the revered hairdresser of Marie Antoinette, did read these manuals and did practice the prescribed art de coiffeur like any other hairdresser in Paris, but he went a step further to take the art to the extreme. By adding yards of gauze, flowers, and heron feathers and by creating scaffolds of wire to raise the towering hairdos with horsehair, Leonard created magic that captivated the queen of Versailles and all of Europe.

Will BashorWill Bashor has a doctorate in International Relations from the American Graduate School in Paris, and he teaches at Franklin University, Columbus, Ohio. His interests have ranged over many fields, among them the study of international law and business, linguistics, cultural anthropology, and European history. Visit him at willbashor.com.

[1] Garsault, François de. Art Du Perruquier, Contenant La Façon De La Barbe; la Coupe des Cheveux; la Construction des Perruques d’Hommes & de Femmes; le Perruquier en vieux; & le Baigneur-Etuviste. Paris: Saillant & Nyon, 1757.

[2] Villermont, Marie comtesse de. Histoire de la coiffure feminine. Paris: Henri Laurens, 1892.


 

 

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Babe Ruth's Called Shot
The Myth and Mystery of Baseball's Greatest Home Run
Ed Sherman


Game Three of the 1932 World Series between the Cubs and Yankees stood locked at 4-4. Some 50,000 fans had gathered at Wrigley Field that bright October day, but above their roar Ruth heard insults pouring from the Cubs' dugout. He watched a fastball from Cubs pitcher Charlie Root set the count at 2-2. Agitated, the Bambino made a gesture, holding out two fingers—but what did it mean? Lou Gehrig heard him call out: "I'm going to knock the next one down your goddamn throat." Then the game's greatest showman pounded Root's next pitch. The ball whizzed past the centerfield scoreboard and began its long journey into history. In an instant, the legend of the Called Shot was born, the debate about what Ruth actually did still dividing fans and sports historians alike more than 80 years later. Deftly placing the homer in the social and economic contexts of the time, Chicago sportswriter Ed Sherman gives us the first full-length, in-depth look at one of baseball's most celebrated and enduring moments—including the incredible stories of two hand-held videos taken by fans and rediscovered decades later—and answers the question: Did Ruth really call his shot?

 

 


 

 

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Everest - The First Ascent
How a Champion of Science Helped to Conquer the Mountain
Harriet Pugh Tuckey


WINNER!


 

2013 Banff Mountain Book Competition:

 

         Mountain & Wilderness Literature – Non-Fiction

 

 

 

 Praise for Harriet Tuckey's Everest - The First Ascent:                                              
"In this illuminating and well-researched portrait of an eccentric, brilliant scientist, Tuckey demonstrates Pugh’s important contributions to the British success on Everest, while also openly addressing his faults and her own troubled relationship with him" - Library Journal

"Harriet Tuckey’s gripping account finally establishes her father’s role as the difference between triumph and failure, and the man himself as the real hero of the expedition."- The Daily Mail (UK)

"Marvelously enjoyable and exciting...poignant." - The Times


"Shines an entirely new light on the great expedition - a riveting read, f ull of surprises" - Sir Chris Bonington

"A most remarkable work about a perfectly extraordinary man. I much admire it." - Jan Morris


"The most important addition to the story of Everest" - Doug Scott

'Superb...this compulsively readable and data-rich book is a tribute to a very distinguished applied physiologist of extraordinary vision, ability, energy and tenacity" - Craig Sharp, Emeritus Professor of Sports Science, Centre for Sports Medicine and Human Performance, Brunel University


"Moving...meticulously researched...New insights that will set many people thinking again of the great achievement...This book should help to set the record straight...Superb..."  John West, Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Physiology, University of California, San Diego



 

 

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Radical
My Journey out of Islamist Extremism
Maajid Nawaz


“This is a book for our times. It should be read by anyone who wants to understand how the extremism that stalks our world  is created and how it can be overcome. It could only be written by someone who has lived this story. And Maajid has.” --Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair

Available now as an ebook from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Maajid Nawaz spent his teenage years listening to American hip-hop and learning about the radical Islamist movement spreading throughout Europe and Asia in the 1980s and 90s. At 16, he was already a ranking member in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a London-based Islamist group. He quickly rose through the ranks to become a top recruiter, a charismatic spokesman for the cause of uniting Islam’s political power across the world. Nawaz was setting up satellite groups in Pakistan, Denmark, and Egypt when he was rounded up in the aftermath of 9/11 along with many other radical Muslims.

He was sent to an Egyptian prison where he was, fortuitously, jailed along with the assassins of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. The 20 years in prison had changed the assassins’ views on Islam and violence; Maajid went into prison prea ching to them about the Islamist cause, but the lessons ended up going the other way. He came out of prison four years later completely changed, convinced that his entire belief system had been wrong, and determined to do something about it.


He met with activists and heads of state, built a network, and started a foundation, Quilliam, funded by the British government, to combat the rising Islamist tide in Europe and elsewhere. He began an activist group in Pakistan as well, using his intimate knowledge of recruitment tactics in order to reverse extremism and persuade Muslims that the "narrative" used to recruit them (that the West is evil and th e cause of all of Muslim suffering), is false. Radical, first published in the U.K., is a fascinating and important look into one man's journey out of extremism and into something else entirely.

This new edition contains a "Preface for U.S. Readers" and an updated epilogue.


 

 

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Gaining Ground
A Story of Farmers' Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm
Forrest Pritchard with a Foreword by Joel Salatin


With humor and pathos, Forrest Pritchard recounts his ambitious and often hilarious endeavors to save his family’s seventh-generation farm in the Shenandoah Valley. Through many a trial and error, he not only saves Smith Meadows from insolvency but turns it into a leading light in the sustainable, grass-fed, organic farm-to-market community.
 
There is nothing young Farmer Pritchard won’t try. Whether he’s selling firewood and straw, raising free-range chickens and hogs, or acquiring a flock of Barbados Blackbelly sheep, his learning curve is steep and always entertaining. Pritchard’s world crackles with colorful local characters—farm hands, butchers, market managers, customers, fellow vendors, pet goats, policemen—bringing the story to warm, communal life. His most important ally, however, is his renegade father, who initially questions his son's career choice and eschews organic foods for the generic kinds that wreak havoc on his health. Soon after his father’s death, the farm becomes a recognized success and Pritchard must make a vital decision: to continue serving the local community or answer the exploding demand for his wares with lucrative Internet sales and shipping deals. 
 
More than a charming story of honest food cultivation and farmers’ markets, Gaining Ground tugs on the heartstrings, reconnecting us to the land and the many l ives that feed us.


 

 

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Sep 21, 2014
Nantucket Athenaeum
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Book Signing
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Sep 20, 2014
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