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Thieves Nab More Than $2.5 Million Worth of Rare Books in London Heist

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It’s everything a movie producer could ever ask for: Thieves rappelling down from a skylight to avoid motion detectors; a criminal mastermind known only as “The Astronomer”; Scotland Yard. All of them embroiled in a successful—at least, so far—heist of more than 160 rare books valued at over $2.5 million.

The Guardian reports that a team of highly organized criminals broke into a London warehouse in late January to swipe rare titles, owned by multiple parties, that were being held in storage en route to a California book fair. The heist was facilitated by the crooks drilling holes into a skylight, then using ropes to inch down to prevent alarms from going off. Works from the 15th and 16th centuries have been reported missing, including volumes written by Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, and Galileo.

Closed-circuit cameras captured the thieves making deliberate searches of boxes known to contain the valuable items, meaning they were well-prepared for what they might find. Because the books are so distinctive, it would be virtually impossible to sell them without raising suspicion; authorities suspect an ethically-challenged collector known as "The Astronomer" may be behind the score.

If true, it wouldn’t be the first time a love of books led to a brazen robbery. In 1990, an Iowa man named Stephen Blumberg was caught after he had spent two decades amassing nearly 19,000 books from libraries and museums. The collection was valued at $5.3 million. Blumberg served four and a half years in prison.

[h/t Smithsonian]

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Hamilton Broadway
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A Hamilton-Themed Cookbook is Coming
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Hamilton Broadway

Fans of Broadway hit Hamilton will soon be able to dine like the Founding Fathers: As Eater reports, a new Alexander Hamilton-inspired cookbook is slated for release in fall 2017.

Cover art for Laura Kumin's forthcoming cookbook
Amazon

Called The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton’s World, the recipe collection by author Laura Kumin “takes you into Hamilton’s home and to his table, with historical information, recipes, and tips on how you can prepare food and serve the food that our founding fathers enjoyed in their day,” according to the Amazon description. It also recounts Hamilton’s favorite dishes, how he enjoyed them, and which ingredients were used.

Recipes included are cauliflower florets two ways, fried sausages and apples, gingerbread cake, and apple pie. (Cue the "young, scrappy, and hungry" references.) The cookbook’s official release is on November 21—but until then, you can stave off your appetite for all things Hamilton-related by downloading the musical’s new app.

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New Tolkien-Themed Botany Book Describes the Plants of Middle-Earth
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While reading The Lord of the Rings saga, it's hard not to notice J.R.R. Tolkien’s clear love of nature. The books are replete with descriptions of lush foliage, rolling prairies, and coniferous forests. A new botany book builds on that knowledge: Entertainment Weekly reports that Flora of Middle-Earth: Plants of J.R.R. Tolkien's Legendarium provides fantasy-loving naturalists with a round-up of plants that grow in Middle-earth.

Cover art for botanist Walter Judd's book
Oxford University Press

Written by University of Florida botanist Walter Judd, the book explores the ecology, etymology, and importance of over 160 plants. Many are either real—coffee, barley, wheat, etc.—or based on real-life species. (For example, pipe-weed may be tobacco, and mallorns are large trees similar to beech trees.)

Using his botany background, Judd explores why Tolkien may have felt compelled to include each in his fantasy world. His analyses are paired with woodcut-style drawings by artist Graham Judd, which depict Middle-earth's flowers, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and shrubs in their "natural" environments.

[h/t Entertainment Weekly]

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