Item# MM
ISBN13: 978-0-465-05470-1
ISBN: 0-465-05470-6
Copyright 2003
416 pp.
Form: Hardback, With printed dust jacket
Price: $10.00

Mirror, Mirror

A History of the Human Love Affair with Reflection (sale price)

By Mark Pendergrast

As the New York Times pointed out, this book romps through so many fascinating fields of human knowledge that it seems like an entire liberal-arts education. Mirror, Mirror is a big, beautifully produced hardcover book that any reader would treasure, and for a limited time, we’re able to offer it at a sale price of just $10–a 64 percent discount from the regular cover price!

The central subject, of course, is the mirror, perhaps the most intriguing of human inventions, since it is so closely connected to our own consciousness, reflecting both reality and illusion. As our first technology for self-contemplation, the mirror is arguably as important an invention as the wheel and perhaps even more universal (the Incas, who had mirrors, did not invent wheels). Mirror Mirror covers the mirror’s invention, refinement, and use in an astonishing range of human activities—from the bloodthirsty smoking gods of the Aztecs to the fantastic mirrored rooms wealthy Romans created for their orgies, to the mirror’s key role in gathering light from the far reaches of the universe.




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What People are Saying                                                     Sample Content

About the Author

Mark Pendergrast

Mark Pendergrast is the author of several books, including Mirror Mirror, Victims of Memory, For God, Country & Coca-Cola, and Uncommon Grounds. His work has appeared in the New York Times, London Sunday Times, Wall Street Journal, Skeptical Inquirer, Professional Psychology: Research and Practice, Ethics & Behavior, River Teeth, Holocaust Studies, and elsewhere.

Pendergrast reviews books regularly for the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He has been interviewed on hundreds of radio and television shows and has given speeches throughout the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and elsewhere. Pendergrast is a Harvard graduate with an advanced degree in library science from Simmons College. He lives in Vermont.


What People are Saying

“PSST—want to save $160,000? Don’t send your son to college; slip him this book instead. It shoehorns an entire liberal arts education into a cultural history of mirrors that touches on architecture, anthropology, sex, painting, myth, religion, math, science, magic, astronomy, literature, business, espionage and warfare, and travels from the Big Bang to the rise and fall of the Greek and Roman Empires, the waxing and waning of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the discovery of the New World and, at last, space: the final frontier. Anyone who masters the contents ofMirror Mirror need never fear Trivial Pursuit again.”—New York Times Book Review
“Pendergrast is an affable guide on a wondrously labyrinthine tour. He explains complex phenomena with remarkable clarity, in a relaxed tone, and with a sense of humor.”— Philadelphia Inquirer
“As with Uncommon Grounds, his history of coffee, Pendergrast has once again transformed something as ordinary as the bathroom sink into something magical. Henceforth, your own mirror will conjure up fairy tales, scenes from Shakespeare, faces of great scientists and demons mocking your vanity. In the end, Mirror Mirror itself is the ‘Love Affair with Reflection’ – the love of the evocative, suggestive power of stories.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“Mark Pendergrast, the ultimate free-lance journalist with an eclectic mind, writes about deceptively narrow topics that in fact have figured in world history for millennia…. . . . Even his footnotes beckon, because they contain so much independent research, so much fascinating trivia.”—Atlanta Journal-Constitution
“Pendergrast writes passionately about something we rarely give much thought to: looking at ourselves in the mirror….He infuses old, dead characters such as Isaac Newton, René Descartes, and Galileo with actual breath and heart. Lovely wackos, all…. Also nice is the author’s commitment to weaving literature around the scientific advancements. As the reader is taken from the early Venetian glass blowers, to the mystic mazes of the fun houses, to modern mirror makers, we are accompanied by the likes of Plato, Shakespeare and Plath.”—Toronto Globe and Mail
Mirror Mirror [is] a breezy tour of reflecting surfaces in science, literature, folklore, art, and religion – from, as it were, magic to murder; from Sumerian epic poetry to Star Wars… in addition to Snow White, Prester John, Nostradamus, Avicenna, Roger Bacon, and Isaac Newton; plus telescopes, microscopes, kaleidoscopes, periscopes, space shuttles, and David Hockney. Rainbows! Lasers! If only for the poetry – Borges, Yeats, Rilke, Shakespeare, Dante, Donne – Mirror Mirror is a cultural-studies treat…. Great fun here, concluding with a chapter on experiments…that tested ‘self-recognition’ by apes, elephants, and dolphins who looked at themselves for hundreds of hours in laboratory mirrors.”—Harper’s Magazine
“In his latest work, Mirror Mirror, best-selling journalist Mark Pendergrast plunges into the shimmering world of images, optics, reflection and refraction. … This book, a literal ‘vision quest,’ traces the influence of the mirror and of the reflection on human psychology, spirituality, arts and sciences…. Pendergrast’s book is a fascinating tour of the beguiling, trickster world of mirrors, a journey that demands self-awareness and perspective (attributes that are, of course, enhanced by a good, long look in a mirror).”—Bookpage
“Throughout its history, Pendergrast shows, the mirror has symbolized vanity, self-examination, and the limits of human understanding…. Shifting to mirrors in science, Pendergrast describes optics from early philosophers’ theories of vision through quantum physicists’ discovery of light’s dual particle-wave nature.”—Publishers Weekly


“Pendergrast arranges a kaleidoscopic chronology that touches on people as different as Etruscans and NASA astrophysicists, and literature that encompasses both Shakespeare and advertising . . . . Art and science mix in Pendergrast’s panorama…always intriguingly.”—Booklist
“Pendergrast traces the significance of reflective surfaces from ancient cultures to contemporary times…. As he reveals, mirrors played a significant role in the advancements of such scientific fields as optics, astronomy, and the study of light…. A worthwhile addition to general collections.”—Library Journal
“An encyclopedic treatment of the looking glass, from the bathroom variety to its use in high-powered telescopes. Pendergrast has an eclectic mind and writes about deceptively narrow topics that have, in fact, figured in world history for millennia. Here, he demonstrates how mirrors have been intimately connected to human consciousness…. Impressive in its wide-ranging research.”—Kirkus Reviews

Sample Content

Table of Contents


  1. The Mirror of the Soul
  2. Magic Visions
  3. Fields of Light
  4. The Rational Mirror
  5. Looking-Glass Literature
  6. A New Way of Seeing
  7. Grasping the Universe
  8. Kaleidoscopic Light Waves
  9. Big Eye
  10. The Vanity Business
  11. Celestial Radios, Divine X-Rays
  12. Beyond Palomar
  13. Final Reflections: Illusions and Realities

Notes on Sources
List of Interviews
Illustration Permissions and Credits