Books: Of Pigeons and Concubines

THE DISCOVERERS by Daniel J. Boorstin; Random House; $25

Did you know that the hour was actually invented around A.D. 1330?

Or that Charles Darwin's Origin of Species was rejected by an editor who urged him instead to write a book about pigeons? ("Everyone is interested in pigeons," said this expert. "The book would be reviewed by every journal in the kingdom.")

Or that the Chou Emperor who ruled China in 1090 had one empress, three consorts, nine spouses, 27 concubines and 81 assistant concubines, whose rotation of duty was exactly scheduled over the course of each fortnight so that the women of highest...

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