Milton's Teeth and Ovid's Umbrella: Curiouser and Curiouser Adventures in History

Touchstone Publishing, 1995

We've all been taught that history is the story of great events and important people—but is it, really? In this illuminating collection of essays, Michael Olmert explores how the most ordinary artifacts of everyday life can reveal a huge amount information about how history actually works. For example:

  • Toothbrushes—how they eased civilization into the Industrial Revolution
  • Playing Cards—how the technology of printing cards led to Gutenberg's Bible
  • Keys—why these little metal objects have been a symbol of power and authority throughout the ages.
  • Pets—why black cats were considered dangerous omens, while white ones were thought to be stupid.

How have these little things affected us, and what role does their history play in ours? Olmert forces us to take another look at the odds and ends of life we so often take for granted. Whimsical, witty, and highly informative, Milton's Teeth and Ovid's Umbrella holds the key through the back door and into the kitchen of history — where people really lived.