cover image Puppetry: A World History

Puppetry: A World History

Eileen Blumenthal. ABRAMS, $65 (272pp) ISBN 978-0-8109-5587-5

There is much more to puppetry than Jim Henson's creations or children's puppet shows, as this thoroughly researched book makes abundantly clear. Through her narrative and 350 illustrations, Blumenthal, a professor of theater arts, takes the reader through an exhaustive history of the puppet world, from prehistoric times to Tony-winning Broadway hit Avenue Q. Blumenthal's approach is different than that of previous historians: rather than giving the ""where, when and how"" and dividing her work by region or time period, she employs a thematic approach, including, among others, chapters on puppet characters, sex and puppets in politics. This approach pays off, and the photos here range from an African fertility puppet to the iconic Miss Piggy to a disturbing likeness of Margaret Thatcher wielding a meat cleaver. Although some images may border on creepy, the book is beautiful to look at, and the writing is largely accessible. This would be a welcome addition to the libraries of performing arts buffs who want to learn more about a lesser known form.