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The Voynich Manuscript: The Unsolved Riddle of an Extraordinary 16th Century Book Which Even Today Defies Interpretation Paperback – 3 Feb 2005

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Orion; New edition edition (3 Feb. 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 075286422X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0752864228
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.6 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 995,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


'A fascinating examination of the latest theories concerning the manuscript' (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

'The clashing interpretations are aired ably and open-mindedly and the books includes plenty of mesmerising images from the enigmatic codex.' (GUARDIAN)

About the Author

The authors are producers and film-makers. Gerry Kennedy is a relative of Voynich and has been researching the manuscript for many years and has amassed a unique archive of material. He has made a number of BBC Radio 4 programmes, including one on the Voynich Manuscript. Rob Churchill has written scripts for the BBC, Thames Television and numerous independent production companies in Britain and abroad. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Kennedy & Churchill's "The Voynich Manuscript" is much more than a book simply about one subject: it is a modern treatise on a rich seam of phenomena and the range of eccentric, occult and devious characters throughout European history who have shaped them.
On the surface, it is a book about one subject: the (likely mediaeval) manuscript written in code (its various sections illustrated with pictures of plants, astronomy, naked dancing nymphs and unintelligible symbology) that has defied attempts at deciphering, from the early students of occult and mystical languages through to the modern cipher-breakers of wartime Europe. It also builds up a chronologically formatted story of the Manuscript from its first appearance in records to its current whereabouts.
In the quest to discover who might have written the manuscript, why they wrote it, and ultimately to decipher its message, Churchill & Kennedy manage to create a cyclopedia of information, a Fortean who's-who of strange people and what's-what of strange phenomena, all who may have been connected in some way with the manuscript, or knowledge of which might assist them in their understanding of it.
Thus we travel through the ages learning about various people and various phenomena, including the life and works of characters such as Roger Bacon, Dr John Dee, St Hildegard and Voynich himself; and in the process discovering the Shakers and the spirit-world, magic and mediaeval science, how migraines work, how codes and ciphers work, and so on, and on ...
How the authors managed to get so much information, interestingly written and clearly explained, in one 300 page volume is a mystery almost as great as the one they are researching.
It's certainly one of the most interesting reads I've had of late and thoroughly recommended.
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Format: Hardcover
... if its end covers had survived we might be the wiser. A useful and well-written introduction to the mysteries of the Voynich Manuscript, but not by any means the definitive account which some of us had been hoping for. Most of the obvious bases are touched: the beautiful but incomprehensible script with its unnatural absence of mistakes, the weird illustrations with their plumbing diagrams infested with little naked ladies, the various possibilities of forgery. The authors have found out more than I previously knew about the secretive book dealer Voynich, but he remains an enigmatic character; he certainly had the opportunity and technical knowledge to fake the manuscript, but what a lot of work it would have taken, and to what end? As it was, it cost him much time and trouble and he never made a dollar out of it.
The book perhaps suffers slightly from its British authorship. Although most of the key players in the modern history of the manuscript have been American, few living experts seem to have been interviewed in person. Missing particularly is any discussion of the sustained and puzzling interest in the manuscript by agencies of the American Government; the Voynich internet group was at one time subsidized by the RAND Corporation, a defence think tank with Pentagon links, while the doctoral thesis of Mary d'Imperio, probably the leading expert on the manuscript, was commissioned by the National Security Agency. One wonders what they think it might contain. Also, I'm not sure the authors understand the full importance of the entropy calculations, which prove that the text is not just random doodles but contains meaningful information, even though we cannot decipher it. But read the book anyway and, like so many other newcomers to the Voynich Manuscript, you will be hooked for life.
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Format: Hardcover
This is a well written book that begins to unravel some of the mystery that surrounds the Voynich Manuscipt. It is both accessible for complete beginners and also would be of interest for those who are more familiar with the most mysterious of all manuscript. Churchill and Kennedy chart an interesting history of the manuscript from its discovery to modern day interpretations, although they are wise to avoid the temptation of former scholars to attaempt to actually translate the work.
This is popular history at its most intriguing and informative... although from time to time one wonders whether this is the correct format. However I am probably being over-snobbish here.
Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
Anyone seriously interested in the Voynich manuscript should undoubtedly inform themselves of the avenues that have been explored over the century or so since its (re)discovery. Mary d'Imperio's "Elegant Enigma" was the most complete summary of prior research for many years. Kennedy and Churchill offer a somewhat more readable overview of the who and what of previous attempts at interpretation. Although their work stands as a comprehensive treatment of pretty much all major efforts until its publication, it unfortunately appeared just before a more recent hypothesis that should definitely be included (should the work ever be re-edited), and that is Nick Pelling's original and eclectic analysis of the manuscript as presented in "The Curse of the Voynich". Another thing missing from Kennedy and Churchill is any kind of structured presentation or analysis of the manuscript itself. For that, the reader still needs to fall back on d'Imperio, or indeed on the online work of researchers such as Jorge Stolfi. But such analysis does not seem to have been Kennedy and Churchill's aim. Theirs is a treatment of the manuscript in its historical context, and indeed from the point of view of what it has come to represent to those who devote often considerable time trying to pierce its secrets. This work would be an excellent starting point for anyone wishing to grapple with this most frustrating and tantalising enigma, which, as the authors point out in their subtitle "has defied interpretation for centuries".
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