Juggling - From Antiquity to the Middle Ages

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 Mar 2019

Member Reviews

A lively and engaging history of juggling full of fascinating insights into the nature of the entertainment and its role in various periods.
Was this review helpful?
This is a really well researched look at the art of Juggling.  The author takes you back in time and around the world to look at the ancient art of juggling.  I was surprised at how much history there was.  The author does a good job of capturing the fun subject. Illustrations accompany the text. I found the book to quick and enjoyable read. Enjoy
Was this review helpful?
This was an interesting read if you like obscure topics that span an era in history that is often neglected, antiquity. Having recently read some novels from this time frame, I was drawn into the historical time and tidbits of unique information.

#JugglingFromAntiquityToTheMiddleAges #NetGalley
Was this review helpful?
Juggling - From Antiquity to the Middle Ages from Thom Wall is an interesting piece of historical research as well as a glimpse at the early days of juggling, and what came to be called juggling.

I am not a juggler so I can't speak to how this book will interest anyone who is, but I would guess it would be a fun read for them. The history aspect I can speak to and it is a very well researched book that covers a long stretch of time but with a narrow enough focus that it is digestible for anyone interested. In addition to simply learning the origins of juggling one of the most interesting aspects is the similarity of various juggling or throw and catch games that developed separately around the globe and at various times. We are all far more similar than we sometimes realize.

This is a history book, even if one written to be appreciated by a wide audience. So if history simply bores you, this might be one to skip unless your interest in juggling outweighs your dislike of history. For those who enjoy history to any degree should find this a fun and informative read if you're at all interested in either ancient or medieval history or juggling.

Reviewed from a copy made available by the publisher via NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?
Who knew? An enjoyable read for  jugglers, history buffs, and triva mavens. Here is everything (well, many things) you never knew about the art of throwing and catching around the globe from ancient times to the Middle Ages. China, India, Japan, Mexico, and Europe, Juggling in literature, Viking mythology, and anecdotal accounts of juggling in ancient Christian and Jewish texts--it's all here, This well-researched and artfully detailed volume is filled with illustrations and photographs.
Was this review helpful?
I was really excited to read this book, but it wouldn't download on my device.  I am on the wait list at the library though and am excited to check this out!  This looks like a really interesting topic.
Was this review helpful?
Having had a fascination with the circus since childhood I was intrigued to read about the history of juggling. This book has it all - it explores the early origins of juggling, the cultures it was part of and includes a lot of excellent information whilst maintaining a chatty, accessible and conversational tone. You can instantly tell how passionate Mr Wall is about the subject, and I feel anyone with an interest in odd trivia, circus history or social history would enjoy dipping into this. The various culture and time periods it crosses makes for a rich, intricate study of jugglers and juggling through the ages.

The accompanying illustrations are a nice touch and complement the narrative whilst also breaking it up a little. It's an interesting, engaging and comprehensive introduction to the history behind juggling, and it has a lot more to it than you would initially think. The evolution of such a distinctive topic makes for captivating reading, although, naturally, there are some parts that are more compelling than others, but, of course, that is very subjective. All in all, this is a meticulously researched book that I found educational and eye-opening. 

Many thanks to Modern Vaudeville Press for an ARC.
Was this review helpful?
This book goes in depth about the history and evolution of the art of juggling. 
There are so many details in this book, and the research done for this is really astounding. The author did an amazing job finding the original references and discovering the sources of confusion. 
If you like history, juggling or just learning about how things evolved through time, this is a great read.
Was this review helpful?
I absolutely love reading books about the smallest of topics such as juggling and seeing how the practice of it changes over time. This book was super cool, and covered something I never would have ever thought of, so kudos to the author for compiling all of the history in this book.
Was this review helpful?
Juggling and new circus - related topics are fascinating. I am somewhat in touch with the themes  because of a festival organised in Lublin, Poland. Carnaval Sztukmistrzów is its name and it's a colourful affair - draws to the city a dozen of jugglers, buskers from around the world. The streets are their stage, allowing for a direct contact with the public and I naturally came to be interested in the topic. 

I find it  pretty fascinating how juggling developed so independently across so many cultures. A primal instinct, the introduction to the book suggests.  Be that as it may, the book offers a fascinating catalogue of juggling instances across various cultures and time periods. I learned that Japanese pass their juggling art down to select group and there are only about a 100 artists, and that Mexican jugglers used very thick logs for foot juggling.  The Spanish and Portuguese word for juggler, malabarista came to be adopted after Portuguese traders observed and came to be entertained by Indian jugglers and then transfered the word, meaning sharing the characteristics of Malabar people, to their own entertainers and there are many more interesting facts.  Finally, and this is something I tend to wonder about,  the discussion clearly suggests that juggler is more than someone who manipulates objects with dexterity, but, rather, someone who  displayed a variety of arts. I wonder about it because it seems to me that the modern meaning of the word juggler veered towards the former. The forms of juggling were culture-specific, a lot seemed to have been used for religious rituals too. The dark side included the fact that a lot of jugglers were bought as slaves.. They were both admired, enjoyed and hated throughout history. 

The author pulled a lot of primary, secondary and tertiary resources and plenty illustrations to offer an engaging and comprehensive  overview of instances of  early juggling across different cultures, suggesting and encouraging to dig in more. It's a great introduction and overview and I am personally encouraged to locate and read more of the primary sources referred to in the text, it has piqued my curiuosity even more.  

Thank you netgalley and publishers and the author for a chance to read advance reader copy. I will want to get this book when it's out, it's one I consider  worth keeping because it's a fantastic reference material to refer back to regularly.    I will share this review on social media and my blog. I will edit the review to add links later.
Was this review helpful?
I love the circus! The acrobats, the feats of daredevils, and hilarious clowns, but what I love most are those who can juggle. When I was much younger, I could juggle (a little) but always wanted to be the flame juggler or to be able to juggle with bowling pins or swords. It truly is an art.

Wall’s book begins in ancient Egypt, the Beni Hasan tomb no. 15 to be exact. Okay, I have to admit, this section was interesting, but a little boring. Yes, seeing the cool pictures and illustrations were interesting, the truth is, we don’t know what they meant. Wall even mentions that, which begs the question of starting there.

It is in the next section that his journey picks up – Ancient Rome. The Romans loved entertainment and travelling jugglers ventured as far East as China. Less is known about jugglers in Ancient Greece, but hey, with those pesky Spartans stealing the limelight, I will cut Wall some slack over the small section.

Walls journey continues through Israel and Babylon, India, Turkey, China, Japan, Russia, The British Isles, Spain, The South Pacific, Mexico, The Vikings, and Indigenous and Nomadic Cultures.

Sections on Europe and British Isles are the largest, but those regions also have the most written history of juggling, although Wall’s preference for literature over official documents may be partially to blame for the differences in size.

Some interesting tidbits of juggling through the Middle Ages:
- In Babylon and Assyria, jugglers were included in religious ceremonies and paid in barley.
- In China, some jugglers were actually slaves bought from Persia and the Roman Empire.
- In Japan, juggling is passed down in families through the generations.
- In the 1500s, it was illegal to be a juggler in Europe and the British Isles.
- Dislike of jugglers in the British Isles dates back to the 1000s.

This is a fantastic read for anyone who likes odd history, juggling, circus history, and odd social history.

Thank you NetGalley and Modern Vaudeville Press for the opportunity to read an advance reader copy.
Was this review helpful?