Who made the first snowman? Who first came up with the idea of placing snowballs on top of each other, and who decided they would use a carrot for a nose? Most puzzling of all: How can this mystery ever be solved, with all the evidence long since melted?
The snowman appears everywhere on practically everything -- from knickknacks to greeting cards to seasonal sweaters we plan to return. Whenever we see big snowballs our first impulse is to deck them out with a top hat. Humorist and writer Bob Eckstein has long been fascinated by this ubiquitous symbol of wintertime fun -- and finally, for the first time, one of the world's most popular icons gets his due.
A thoroughly entertaining exploration, The History of the Snowman travels back in time to shed light on the snowman's enigmatic past -- from the present day, in which the snowman reigns as the King of Kitsch, to the Dark Ages, with the creation of the very first snowman. Eckstein's curiosity began playfully enough, but soon snowballed into a (mostly) earnest quest of chasing Frosty around the world, into museums and libraries, and seeking out the advice of leading historians and scholars. The result is a riveting history that reaches back through centuries and across cultures -- sweeping from fifteenth-century Italian snowballs to eighteenth-century Russian ice sculptures to the regrettable "white-trash years" (1975-2000).
The snowman is not just part of our childhood memories, but is an integral part of our world culture, appearing -- much like a frozen Forrest Gump -- alongside dignitaries and celebrities during momentous events. Again and again, the snowman pops up in rare prints, paintings, early movies, advertising and, over the past century, in every art form imaginable. And the jolly snowman -- ostensibly as pure as the driven snow -- also harbors a dark past full of political intrigue, sex, and violence.
With more than two hundred illustrations and a special section of the best snowman cartoons, The History of the Snowman is a truly original winter classic -- smart, surprisingly enlightening, and quite simply the coolest book ever.
Bob Eckstein has been a humor writer for more than twenty years, and is most recognized for his popular weekly columns in Newsday, the Village Voice, and now, TimeOut. His cartoons and artwork have also appeared in publications like The New Yorker, the New York Times, Spy magazine, and Details. He splits his time between his studios in Manhattan and Pennsylvania.
"A priceless collection of very important useless information." -- Gary Sohmers, radio host and appraiser on PBS's Antiques Roadshow
"In these Brangelina- and Tomkat-saturated times, it's hard to believe a celebrity on the order of the snowman has gone centuries without a proper biography. Thankfully Bob Eckstein has righted this wrong with his charming and elbow-the-guy-on-the-bus-next-to-you fascinating tale of the world's first true arbiter of cool." -- Brian Farnham, editor-in-chief, Time Out New York
"Fascinating and entertaining. The snowman meant very little to me, but now he's fraught with meaning." -- Len Belzer, host of the nationally syndicated radio show The Comedy Hour
"Thoroughly researched, lavishly illustrated. There's more to the snowman than meets the eye." -- David Smith, New York Public Library
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