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August 2016

History Books Roundup: Reliving the Past

August 2016

August's roundup of History titles includes AMERICAN HEIRESS, Jeffrey Toobin's definitive account of the kidnapping, crimes and trial of Patty Hearst, which defined an insane era in American history; A SQUARE MEAL by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe, an in-depth exploration of the greatest food crisis the nation has ever faced --- the Great Depression --- and how it transformed America’s culinary culture; THE BOOK, in which Keith Houston follows the development of writing, printing, the art of illustrations and binding to show how we have moved from cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls to the hardcovers and paperbacks of today; and Brian McGinty's THE REST I WILL KILL, a surprising work of narrative history and detection that illuminates one of the most daring --- and long-forgotten --- heroes of the Civil War: William Tillman, an African-American sailor who was born a free man.

1920: The Year that Made the Decade Roar by Eric Burns - History


The Roaring Twenties is the only decade in American history with a widely applied nickname, and our collective fascination with this era continues. But how did this surge of innovation and cultural milestones emerge out of the ashes of The Great War? Acclaimed author Eric Burns investigates the year of 1920, which was not only a crucial 12-month period of its own, but one that foretold the future, foreshadowing the rest of the 20th century and the early years of the 21st.

American Heiress: The Wild Saga of the Kidnapping, Crimes and Trial of Patty Hearst by Jeffrey Toobin - True Crime


The saga of Patty Hearst highlighted a decade in which America seemed to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown. Based on more than a hundred interviews and thousands of previously secret documents, AMERICAN HEIRESS recounts the craziness of the times (there were an average of 1,500 terrorist bombings a year in the early 1970s). Jeffrey Toobin portrays the lunacy of the half-baked radicals of the SLA and the toxic mix of sex, politics and violence that swept up Patty Hearst and re-creates her melodramatic trial. The book examines the life of a young woman who suffered an unimaginable trauma and then made the stunning decision to join her captors’ crusade. Or did she?

Avenue of Spies: A True Story of Terror, Espionage, and One American Family's Heroic Resistance in Nazi-Occupied Paris by Alex Kershaw - History


The leafy Avenue Foch, one of the most exclusive residential streets in Nazi-occupied France, was Paris's hotbed of daring spies, murderous secret police, amoral informers and Vichy collaborators. So when American physician Sumner Jackson found himself drawn into the Liberation network of the French resistance, he knew the stakes were impossibly high. Drawing upon a wealth of primary source material and extensive interviews with Sumner’s son, Phillip, Alex Kershaw recreates the City of Light during its darkest days.

The Book: A Cover-to-Cover Exploration of the Most Powerful Object of Our Time by Keith Houston - History

We may love books, but do we know what lies behind them? In THE BOOK, Keith Houston reveals that the paper, ink, thread, glue and board from which a book is made tell as rich a story as the words on its pages --- of civilizations, empires, human ingenuity and madness. In an invitingly tactile history of this 2,000-year-old medium, Houston follows the development of writing, printing, the art of illustrations and binding to show how we have moved from cuneiform tablets and papyrus scrolls to the hardcovers and paperbacks of today.

City of Sedition: The History of New York City During the Civil War by John Strausbaugh - History

No city was more of a help to Abraham Lincoln and the Union war effort, or more of a hindrance. No city raised more men, money and material for the war, and no city raised more hell against it. It was a city of patriots, war heroes and abolitionists, but simultaneously a city of antiwar protest, draft resistance and sedition. CITY OF SEDITION follows the fortunes of such fascinating figures such as Horace Greeley, Walt Whitman, Boss Tweed, Thomas Nast and Herman Melville. The book chronicles how many New Yorkers seized the opportunities the conflict presented to amass capital, create new industries and expand their markets, laying the foundation for the city's --- and the nation's --- growth.

Give Us the Ballot: The Modern Struggle for Voting Rights in America by Ari Berman - History


Countless books have been written about the civil rights movement, but far less attention has been paid to what happened after the dramatic passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in 1965 and the turbulent forces it unleashed. GIVE US THE BALLOT tells this story for the first time. In this groundbreaking narrative history, Ari Berman charts both the transformation of American democracy under the VRA and the counterrevolution that has sought to limit voting rights, from 1965 to the present day.

Goldeneye: Where Bond Was Born --- Ian Fleming's Jamaica by Matthew Parker - Biography


For two months every year, from 1946 to his death 18 years later, Ian Fleming lived at Goldeneye, the house he built on a point of high land overlooking a small white sand beach on Jamaica’s stunning north coast. All the James Bond novels were written here. This book explores the huge influence of Jamaica on the creation of Fleming’s iconic post-war hero and traces his relationship with the land and the people of Jamaica.

KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps by Nikolaus Wachsmann - History


In a landmark work of history, Nikolaus Wachsmann offers an unprecedented, integrated account of the Nazi concentration camps from their inception in 1933 through their demise, 70 years ago, in the spring of 1945. He not only synthesizes a new generation of scholarly work, much of it untranslated and unknown outside of Germany, but also presents startling revelations, based on many years of archival research, about the functioning and scope of the camp system.

The Making of Asian America: A History by Erika Lee - Social History

In the past 50 years, Asian Americans have helped change the face of America and are now the fastest growing group in the United States. But as award-winning historian Erika Lee reminds us, Asian Americans also have deep roots in the country. THE MAKING OF ASIAN AMERICA tells the little-known history of Asian Americans and their role in American life, from the arrival of the first Asians in the Americas to the present day.

Marked for Death: The First War in the Air by James Hamilton-Paterson - History

Little more than 10 years after the first powered flight, aircraft were pressed into service in World War I. Nearly forgotten in the war's massive overall death toll, some 50,000 aircrew would die in the combatant nations' fledgling air forces. The romance of aviation had a remarkable grip on the public imagination, but the reality was horribly different. MARKED FOR DEATH debunks popular myth to explore the brutal truths of wartime aviation: of flimsy planes and unprotected pilots; of burning 19-year-olds falling screaming to their deaths; of pilots blinded by the entrails of their observers. James Hamilton-Paterson also reveals how four years of war produced profound changes both in the aircraft themselves and in military attitudes and strategy.

The Perfect Horse: The Daring U.S. Mission to Rescue the Priceless Stallions Kidnapped by the Nazis by Elizabeth Letts - History


In the chaotic last days of World War II, a small troop of battle-weary American soldiers captures a German spy and makes an astonishing find --- his briefcase is empty but for photos of beautiful white horses that have been stolen and kept on a secret farm behind enemy lines. Hitler has stockpiled the world’s finest purebreds in order to breed the perfect military machine --- an equine master race. But with the starving Russian army closing in, the animals are in imminent danger of being slaughtered for food. With only hours to spare, one of the Army’s last great cavalrymen, American colonel Hank Reed, makes a bold decision --- with General George Patton’s blessing --- to mount a covert rescue operation.

The Rest I Will Kill: William Tillman and the Unforgettable Story of How a Free Black Man Refused to Become a Slave by Brian McGinty - History

Independence Day, 1861. The schooner S. J. Waring sets sail from New York on a routine voyage to South America. Seventeen days later, it limps back into New York’s frenzied harbor with the ship's black steward, William Tillman, at the helm. While the story of that ill-fated voyage is one of the most harrowing tales of captivity and survival on the high seas, it has been lost to history. Now reclaiming Tillman as the real American hero he was, historian Brian McGinty dramatically returns readers to that riotous, explosive summer of 1861, when the country was tearing apart at the seams and the Union army was in near shambles following a humiliating defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run.

Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America by Wil Haygood - Biography


Over the course of his 40-year career, Thurgood Marshall brought down the separate-but-equal doctrine, integrated schools, and not only fought for human rights and human dignity but also made them impossible to deny in the courts and in the streets. In SHOWDOWN, Wil Haygood uses the framework of the dramatic, contentious five-day Senate hearing to confirm Marshall as the first African-American Supreme Court justice, to weave a provocative and moving look at Marshall’s life as well as at the politicians, lawyers, activists and others who shaped --- or desperately tried to stop --- the civil rights movement.

A Square Meal: A Culinary History of the Great Depression by Jane Ziegelman and Andrew Coe - Cooking/History


The decade-long Great Depression forever changed the way America eats. Before 1929, America’s relationship with food was defined by abundance. But the collapse of the economy, in both urban and rural America, left a quarter of all Americans out of work and undernourished. In 1933, as women struggled to feed their families, President Roosevelt reversed long-standing biases toward government-sponsored “food charity.” For the first time in American history, the federal government assumed, for a while, responsibility for feeding its citizens. The effects were widespread. Championed by Eleanor Roosevelt, “home economists” who had long fought to bring science into the kitchen rose to national stature.

The Storm of the Century: Tragedy, Heroism, Survival, and the Epic True Story of America's Deadliest Natural Disaster: The Great Gulf Hurricane of 1900 by Al Roker - History


On the afternoon of September 8, 1900, 200-mile-per-hour winds and 15-foot waves slammed into Galveston, the prosperous and growing port city on Texas’s Gulf Coast. By dawn the next day, when the storm had passed, the city that existed just hours before was gone. Shattered, grief-stricken survivors emerged to witness a level of destruction never before seen: 8,000 corpses littered the streets and were buried under the massive wreckage. In less than 24 hours, one storm destroyed a major American metropolis --- and awakened a nation to the terrifying power of nature.

The Story of Egypt: The Civilization that Shaped the World by Joann Fletcher - History


The story of the world's greatest civilization spans 4,000 years of history that has shaped the world. It is full of spectacular cities and epic stories --- an evolving society rich in inventors, heroes, heroines, villains, artisans and pioneers. Professor Joann Fletcher pulls together the complete story of Egypt --- charting the rise and fall of the ancient Egyptians while putting their whole world into a context to which we can all relate.