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April 2014

History Books Roundup: Reliving the Past

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.

50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple's Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany by Steven Pressman - History

April 22, 2014


Based on the acclaimed HBO documentary, 50 CHILDREN is the astonishing true story of how one American couple transported 50 Jewish children from Nazi-occupied Austria to America in 1939 --- the single largest group of unaccompanied refugee children allowed into the United States.

The Bill of the Century: The Epic Battle for the Civil Rights Act by Clay Risen - History

April 1, 2014


The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was the single most important piece of legislation passed by Congress in American history. The bill's passage has often been credited to the political leadership of President Lyndon Johnson, or the moral force of Martin Luther King. Yet as Clay Risen shows, the battle for the Civil Rights Act was a story much bigger than those two men. It was a broad, epic struggle, a sweeping tale of unceasing grassroots activism, ringing speeches, backroom deal-making and hand-to-hand legislative combat.

Bloody Spring: Forty Days that Sealed the Confederacy's Fate by Joseph Wheelan - History

April 29, 2014


In the spring of 1864, Virginia remained unbroken, its armies having repelled Northern armies for more than two years. Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia had defeated the campaigns of four Union generals, but their adversary in 1864 was a different kind of Union commander --- Ulysses S. Grant. During six weeks in May and June 1864, Grant's army campaigned as no Union army ever had. When it ended, more than 100,000 men had been killed, wounded, or captured on the battlefields. The Confederacy would never mount another major offensive.

Bolivar: American Liberator by Marie Arana - Biography

April 8, 2014


Drawing on a wealth of primary documents, Marie Arana vividly captures the early 19th-century South America that made Simon Bolívar the man he became: fearless general, brilliant strategist, consummate diplomat, dedicated abolitionist, gifted writer, and flawed politician. A major work of history, BOLIVAR not only portrays a dramatic life in all its glory, but is also a stirring declaration of what it means to be South American.

The Borgias: The Hidden History by G.J. Meyer - History

April 29, 2014


The startling truth behind one of the most notorious dynasties in history is revealed in a remarkable new account by the acclaimed author of THE TUDORS and A WORLD UNDONE. Sweeping aside the gossip, slander and distortion that have shrouded the Borgias for centuries, G. J. Meyer offers an unprecedented portrait of the infamous Renaissance family and their storied milieu.

Bunker Hill: A City, a Siege, a Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick - History

April 29, 2014


Nathaniel Philbrick brings a fresh perspective to the story of the Boston battle that ignited the American Revolution. He finds new characters, and new facets to familiar ones. The real work of choreographing rebellion falls to a 33-year-old physician named Joseph Warren, who emerges as the on-the-ground leader of the Patriot cause and is fated to die at Bunker Hill.

The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England's Most Notorious Queen by Susan Bordo - Biography/Cultural History

April 1, 2014


Part biography, part cultural history, THE CREATION OF ANNE BOLEYN is a reconstruction of Anne Boleyn’s life and an illuminating look at her very active afterlife in the popular imagination. With recent novels, movies and television shows, Anne has been having a 21st-century moment, but Susan Bordo shows how many generations of polemicists, biographers, novelists and filmmakers have imagined and reimagined her: whore, martyr, cautionary tale, proto-“mean girl,” feminist icon, and everything in between.

The Deadly Sisterhood: A Story of Women, Power, and Intrigue in the Italian Renaissance, 1427-1527 by Leonie Frieda - Biography/History

April 8, 2014


THE DEADLY SISTERHOOD is an epic tale of eight women whose lives --- marked by fortune and poverty, power and powerlessness --- encompass the spectacle, opportunity and depravity of Italy’s Renaissance. Lucrezia Turnabuoni, Clarice Orsini, Beatrice d’Este, Isabella d’Este, Caterina Sforza, Giulia Farnese, Isabella d’Aragona and Lucrezia Borgia shared the riches of their birthright: wealth, political influence and friendship, but none were not exempt from personal tragedies, exile and poverty. 

The Embrace of Unreason: France, 1914-1940 by Frederick Brown - History

April 1, 2014


Frederick Brown explores the tumultuous forces unleashed in France by the Dreyfus Affair and its aftermath, and examines how the clashing ideologies --- the swarm of ’isms --- and their blood-soaked political scandals and artistic movements following the horrors of World War I resulted in the country’s era of militant authoritarianism, rioting, violent racism and nationalistic fervor. We see how these forces overtook the country’s sense of reason, sealing the fate of an entire nation, and led to the fall of France and the rise of the Vichy government.

Empty Mansions: The Mysterious Life of Huguette Clark and the Spending of a Great American Fortune by Bill Dedman and Paul Clark Newell, Jr. - History

April 22, 2014


When Pulitzer Prizewinning journalist Bill Dedman noticed in 2009 a grand home for sale, unoccupied for nearly 60 years, he stumbled through a surprising portal into American history. EMPTY MANSIONS is a rich mystery of wealth and loss, connecting the Gilded Age opulence of the 19th century with a 21st-century battle over a $300 million inheritance. At its heart is a reclusive heiress named Huguette Clark, a woman so secretive that, at the time of her death at age 104, no new photograph of her had been seen in decades.

The Fall of the House of Dixie: The Civil War and the Social Revolution That Transformed the South by Bruce Levine - History

April 1, 2014


In this major new history of the Civil War, Bruce Levine tells the riveting story of how that conflict upended the economic, political, and social life of the old South, utterly destroying the Confederacy and the society it represented and defended. Told through the words of the people who lived it, THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF DIXIE illuminates the way a war undertaken to preserve the status quo became a second American Revolution whose impact on the country was as strong and lasting as that of our first.

The Fight for the Four Freedoms: What Made FDR and the Greatest Generation Truly Great by Harvey J. Kaye - History/Politics

April 8, 2014


For decades, conservative and corporate interests have worked to obscure the greatest achievement of the Greatest Generation: securing Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms for all Americans. These were the democratic aims that helped beat the Great Depression, defeat the Axis Powers in World War II, and turn the United States into the strongest and richest nation in history. In this eye-opening account, Harvey Kaye recalls the full story of this generation’s extraordinary struggles and accomplishments.

Frozen in Time: An Epic Story of Survival and a Modern Quest for Lost Heroes of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff - History

April 29, 2014


On November 5, 1942, a US cargo plane slammed into the Greenland Ice Cap. Four days later, the B-17 assigned to the search-and-rescue mission became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on board survived, and the US military launched a daring rescue operation. But after picking up one man, the Grumman Duck amphibious plane flew into a severe storm and vanished. FROZEN IN TIME tells the story of these crashes and the fate of the survivors.

The Last White Rose: The Secret Wars of the Tudors by Desmond Seward - History

April 15, 2014


One of the most dramatic periods of British history, the Wars of the Roses didn't end at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. Despite the death of Richard III and Henry VII's victory, it continued underground into the following century with plots, pretenders and subterfuge by the ousted white rose faction. In a brand new interpretation of this turning point in history, historian Desmond Seward reviews the story of the Tudors' seizure of the throne and shows that for many years they were far from secure.

The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America by John F. Kasson - Biography

April 14, 2014


Amid the deprivation and despair of the Great Depression, Shirley Temple radiated optimism and plucky good cheer that lifted the spirits of millions and shaped their collective character for generations to come. Cultural historian John F. Kasson shows how the most famous, adored, imitated and commodified child in the world astonished movie goers, created a new international culture of celebrity, and revolutionized the role of children as consumers.

A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire by Geoffrey Wawro - History

April 29, 2014


Drawing on deep archival research, Geoffrey Wawro charts the decline of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the war and reconstructs the great battles in the east and the Balkans in thrilling and tragic detail. A MAD CATASTROPHE is a riveting account of a neglected face of World War I, revealing how a once-mighty empire collapsed in the trenches of Serbia and the Eastern Front, changing the course of European history.

Paris at the End of the World: The City of Light During the Great War, 1914-1918 by John Baxter - History

April 15, 2014


A preeminent writer on Paris, John Baxter brilliantly brings to life one of the most dramatic and fascinating periods in the city's history. During World War I, the terrifying sounds of the nearby front could be heard from inside the French capital; Germany's "Paris Gun" and enemy aviators routinely bombarded the city. And yet in its darkest hour, the City of Light blazed more brightly than ever.

The Pope's Last Crusade: How an American Jesuit Helped Pope Pius XI's Campaign to Stop Hitler by Peter Eisner - History

April 1, 2014


Drawing on untapped resources, exclusive interviews, and new archival research, THE POPE’S LAST CRUSADE by Peter Eisner is a thrilling narrative that sheds new light on Pope Pius XI’s valiant effort to condemn Nazism and the policies of the Third Reich --- a crusade that might have changed the course of World War II.

Supreme Commander: MacArthur's Triumph in Japan by Seymour Morris, Jr. - History

April 15, 2014


SUPREME COMMANDER combines political history and military biography to tell for the first time how General Douglas MacArthur achieved a nation-building feat never before attempted nor replicated since. Seymour Morris Jr. reveals this flawed man at his best --- as one who treated a defeated enemy with respect; made informed, thoughtful decisions; yet could also be brash and stubborn when necessary, leading the occupation with intelligence, class and compassion.

A Very Principled Boy: The Life of Duncan Lee, Red Spy and Cold Warrior by Mark A. Bradley - Biography

April 29, 2014


Duncan Chaplin Lee was a Rhodes Scholar, patriot and descendent of one of America’s most distinguished families --- and possibly the best-placed mole ever to infiltrate U.S. intelligence operations. In A VERY PRINCIPLED BOY, intelligence expert and former CIA officer Mark A. Bradley traces the tangled roots of Lee’s betrayal and reveals his harrowing struggle to stay one step ahead of America’s spy hunters during and after World War II.

The Victory Season: The End of World War II and the Birth of Baseball's Golden Age by Robert Weintraub - History/Sports

April 8, 2014


In the spring of 1946, with World War II finally over, hundreds of baseball's stars were coming home. It proved to be one of the most memorable seasons in history, capped with a thrilling seven-game World Series. And a new era began, with Jackie Robinson making his professional debut. Robert Weintraub brings to life little-known tales from the war years, including the "world series" service members played in an abandoned Hitler Youth stadium in the fall of 1945.