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History Books Roundup: Reliving the Past

In many ways, history defines us. When we can examine where we have been, we often can see a path to the future. Whether we’re reading books about battles and wars, political and personal triumphs and failures, or tales of places and moments that were significant, stories built on history give us a chance to assess the past with a new perspective. In this monthly Bookreporter.com feature, we take a look at some of the hardcover and paperback releases in the history genre that we think will be of interest to our readers.

September 2014

September’s roundup of History titles includes THE ROOSEVELTS: An Intimate History, Geoffrey C. Ward and Ken Burns’s companion volume to the seven-part PBS documentary series, which presents an intimate history of Theodore, Eleanor and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and features a whopping 796 photographs (some of which have never been seen before); Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard’s KILLING PATTON, which takes readers inside the final year of World War II and recounts the events surrounding General George S. Patton’s tragic demise, naming names of the many powerful individuals who wanted him silenced; DEATH OF A KING, Tavis Smiley and David Ritz’s revealing and dramatic chronicle of the 12 months leading up to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination; and SUCH TROOPS AS THESE, in which acclaimed military historian Bevin Alexander offers a fresh analysis of Stonewall Jackson’s military genius and reveals how the Civil War might have ended differently if Jackson’s strategies had been adopted.

August 2014

August’s roundup of History titles includes IN THE KINGDOM OF ICE: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides, a white-knuckle tale of polar exploration and survival in the Gilded Age; THE INVISIBLE BRIDGE: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan, Rick Perlstein’s examination of an America on the verge of a nervous breakdown in the tumultuous political and economic times of the 1970s; INFIDEL KINGS AND UNHOLY WARRIORS: Faith, Power, and Violence in the Age of Crusade and Jihad by Brian A. Catlos, an in-depth portrait of the Crusades-era Mediterranean world and a new understanding of the forces that shaped it; and PEPPER: A History of the World's Most Influential Spice, in which Marjorie Shaffer describes the essential role that pepper played in bringing both Americans and Europeans to Asia.

July 2014

July’s roundup of History titles includes Robert L. O’Connell’s biography of William Tecumseh Sherman, FIERCE PATRIOT, a bold, revisionist portrait of how America’s first “celebrity” general exerted an outsize impact on the American landscape --- and the American character; THE NIXON TAPES: 1971-1972, Douglas Brinkley’s latest book that was made possible by professor Luke Nichter's massive effort to digitize and transcribe the Nixon White House tapes, revealing for the first time the 37th President uncensored, unfiltered and in his own words; DOUBLE AGENT by Peter Duffy, the never-before-told tale of the German-American who spearheaded a covert mission to infiltrate New York’s Nazi underground in the days leading up to World War II --- the most successful counterespionage operation in US history; and Linda Porter’s TUDORS VERSUS STEWARTS, which sheds new light on Henry VIII, his daughter Elizabeth I, and his great-niece, Mary Queen of Scots.

June 2014

June’s roundup of History titles includes THE EXPLORERS, Martin Dugard's riveting account of one of history’s greatest adventures --- the Burton and Speke expedition of 1856 --- and a study of the seven character traits all great explorers share; A. J. Baime's THE ARSENAL OF DEMOCRACY, a dramatic, intimate narrative of how Ford Motor Company went from making automobiles to producing the airplanes that would mean the difference between winning and losing World War II; JET SET by Vanity Fair contributor William Stadiem, the first-ever book about the glamorous decade when Americans took to the skies in massive numbers as never before, with the rich and famous elbowing their way to the front of the line; and WHAT SO PROUDLY WE HAILED by Marc Leepson, the first full-length biography of Francis Scott Key in more than 75 years, which is being published to coincide with the 200th anniversary of “The Star Spangled Banner.”

May 2014

May’s roundup of History titles includes THE LION'S GATE by Steven Pressfield, which tells the story of the Six Day War in the voices of the young men and women who battled not only for their lives, but also for the survival of a Jewish state and for the dreams of their ancestors; JAMES MADISION: A Life Reconsidered, Lynne Cheney's new biography of James Madison that explores the astonishing story of a man of vaunted modesty who audaciously changed the world; SUPREME CITY, Donald L. Miller’s account of Manhattan’s growth and transformation in the 1920s and the brilliant people behind it; THE PHANTOM OF FIFTH AVENUE by Meryl Gordon, which, as the subtitle states, details "the mysterious life and scandalous death of heiress Huguette Clark,” a vivacious, young socialite who became a recluse; and an illustrated edition of Stephen E. Ambrose's D-DAY: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II, featuring an extraordinary collection of over 125 photos.

April 2014

April’s roundup of History titles includes THE BILL OF THE CENTURY, a thorough exploration of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the single most important piece of legislation passed by Congress in American history; THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF DIXIE, the riveting story of how the Civil War upended the economic, political and social life of the old South, utterly destroying the Confederacy and the society it represented and defended; BOLIVAR: AMERICAN LIBERATOR, a sweeping biography of Simon Bolivar and the winner of this year's Los Angeles Times Book Prize in the Biography category; THE LAST WHITE ROSE, a new interpretation of one of the most dramatic periods of British history: the Tudor victory and their dynasty; and 50 CHILDREN, the astonishing true story of how one American couple transported 50 Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Austria to America in 1939.

March 2014

March’s roundup of History titles includes MACHINE MADE, a surprising new history of New York’s most famous political machine --- Tammany Hall --- revealing, beyond the vice and corruption, a birthplace of progressive urban politics; THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY, a remarkable true story of the top-secret World War II town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the young women brought there unknowingly to help build the atomic bomb; THE AGE OF RADIANCE, a magisterial account of the men and women who uncovered the secrets of the nucleus, brought its power to America, and ignited the 20th century;  WASHED AWAY, the incredible story of a flood of near-biblical proportions --- its destruction, its heroes and victims, and how it shaped America's natural-disaster policies for the next century; and THE ETERNAL NAZI, the never-before-told story of the most hunted Nazi war criminal in the world, by the New York Times reporters who first uncovered S.S. officer Aribert Heim’s secret life in Egypt.

February 2014

February's roundup of History titles includes DARK INVASION, Howard Blum’s true-life tale of German espionage and terror on American soil during World War I, and the NYPD Inspector who helped uncover the plot (the basis for the film to be produced by and starring Bradley Cooper); THE RACE UNDERGROUND, in which Doug Most chronicles the competition between Boston and New York to construct America's first subway; DOWN TO THE CROSSROADS by Aram Goudsouzian, the story of the last great march of the Martin Luther King, Jr. era, and the first great showdown of the turbulent years that followed; Richard Overy's THE BOMBERS AND THE BOMBED, the ultimate history of the Allied bombing campaigns in World War II; and THE ART OF BETRAYAL by Gordon Corera, which provides a unique and unprecedented insight into the British Secret Service and the reality that lies behind the fiction.

January 2014

January's roundup of History titles includes THE BURGLARY by Betty Medsger, the never-before-told full story of the 1971 history-changing break-in of the FBI offices in Media, Pennsylvania; Greg Gandin’s THE EMPIRE OF NECESSITY, the story of a remarkable slave rebellion that illuminates America’s struggle with slavery and freedom during the Age of Revolution and beyond; WAKING FROM THE DREAM, David L. Chappell's examination of the new phase that the civil rights movement entered following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.; THE POPE AND MUSSOLINI by David I. Kertzer, the gripping story of Pope Pius XI’s secret relations with Italian dictator Benito Mussolini; and CHURCHILL’S FIRST WAR, Con Coughlin's fascinating account of Winston Churchill's early military career fighting in the 1890 Afghan campaign, offering fresh and revealing parallels into today's war in Afghanistan.

December 2013

As 2013 comes to a close, history buffs will be delighted by the number of outstanding history books releasing this month. Among these December releases, which have been compiled by Bookreporter.com's Greg Fitzgerald, are HEIR TO THE EMPIRE CITY: New York and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt by Edward P. Kohn, WARSAW 1944: Hitler, Himmler, and the Warsaw Uprising by Alexandra Richie, BETWEEN MAN AND BEAST: An Unlikely Explorer and the African Adventure that Took the Victorian World by Storm by Monte Reel, and BEETHOVEN: THE MAN REVEALED by John Suchet.