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In brief: Audubon book fetches record $10 million

Sotheby’s employee Mary Engleheart looks at a volume of Audubon’s “Birds of America” in London Monday.  (Associated Press)
Sotheby’s employee Mary Engleheart looks at a volume of Audubon’s “Birds of America” in London Monday. (Associated Press)

LONDON – John James Audubon’s “Birds of America,” a rare blend of art, natural history and craftsmanship, fetched more than $10 million at auction on Tuesday, making it the world’s most expensive published book.

With its 435 hand-colored illustrations of birds drawn to size, the volume is one of the best-preserved editions of Audubon’s 19th-century masterpiece.

The book sold for $10,270,000 to an anonymous collector bidding by telephone, the auction house said.

Part naturalist and part artist, Audubon possessed an unequaled ability to observe, catalog and paint the birds he observed in the wild. Experts say his book, originally published in 1827, is unmatched in its beauty and is also of considerable scientific value.

While the Audubon volume holds the record for a published book, a 72-page notebook of Leonardo da Vinci’s handwritten notes and illustrations went for even more. Known as the Leicester Codex, the collection was bought by Bill Gates in 1994 for $31 million.

Taliban defeated in Marjah, says general

WASHINGTON – A senior Marine general in Afghanistan on Tuesday declared the battle in the southern Taliban stronghold of Marjah “essentially over.”

The commander’s assertion of victory in Marjah comes 10 months after thousands of U.S.-led NATO troops stormed the cluster of farming hamlets to rout insurgents and cut off their income from the drug trade.

The campaign took longer than NATO officials had hoped, and underscored the complexity of trying to wrest control of an area where Taliban influence remained strong.

Via video link from Afghanistan, Maj. Gen. Richard Mills told reporters at the Pentagon on Tuesday the enemy has been pushed to the outskirts of the area, where insurgents come in from the desert to take “the odd shot at us.” In the more populated areas, Mills said, Afghan police are mostly providing the security on their own.

He vowed an “aggressive winter campaign” to blunt the potential of a revival by the Taliban next spring.

“We will move into areas we thought were unreachable by coalition forces. We will give them no rest,” Mills said.


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