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January 2014

History Books Roundup: Reliving the Past

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.

All Standing: The Remarkable Story of the Jeanie Johnston, The Legendary Irish Famine Ship by Kathryn Miles - History/Transportation

January 14, 2014


More than one million immigrants fled the Irish famine for North America --- and more than 100,000 of them perished aboard the “coffin ships” that crossed the Atlantic. But one small ship never lost a passenger. ALL STANDING recounts the remarkable tale of the Jeanie Johnston and her ingenious crew, whose 11 voyages are the stuff of legend. Why did these individuals succeed while so many others failed? And what new lives in America were the ship’s passengers seeking?

The Burglary: The Discovery of J. Edgar Hoover’s Secret FBI by Betty Medsger - History

October 7, 2014


THE BURGLARY is the never-before-told full story of the 1971 history-changing break-in of the FBI offices in Media, Pennsylvania, by a group of unlikely activists --- quiet, ordinary, hardworking Americans --- that made clear the shocking truth and confirmed what some had long suspected: that J. Edgar Hoover had created and was operating his own shadow Bureau of Investigation.

Careless People: Murder, Mayhem, and the Invention of The Great Gatsby by Sarah Churchwell - Literary History

January 27, 2015


CARELESS PEOPLE is a unique literary investigation: a gripping double narrative that combines a forensic search for clues to an unsolved crime and a quest for the roots of one of America’s best-loved novels. Acclaimed scholar of American literature Sarah Churchwell reconstructs the events of that pivotal autumn in 1922, revealing in the process new ways of thinking about F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterpiece.

Churchill's First War: Young Winston at War with the Afghans by Con Coughlin - History

January 28, 2014


Just over a century ago, British troops were fighting a vicious frontier war against Pashtun tribeman on the North West Frontier --- the great-great-grandfathers of the Taliban and tribal insurgents in modern-day Afghanistan. Winston Churchill, then a young cavalry lieutenant, wrote a vivid account of what he saw during his first major campaign. In CHURCHILL'S FIRST WAR, Con Coughlin tells the story of that campaign, a story of high adventure and imperial success, which contains many lessons and warnings for today.

Danubia: A Personal History of Habsburg Europe by Simon Winder - History

January 21, 2014


DANUBIA plunges the reader into a maelstrom of alchemy, skeletons, jewels, bear-moats, unfortunate marriages and a guinea-pig village. Full of music, piracy, religion and fighting, it is the history of a strange dynasty, and the people they ruled, who spoke many different languages, lived in a vast range of landscapes, believed in rival gods, and often showed a marked ingratitude towards their oddball ruler in Vienna.

The Empire of Necessity: Slavery, Freedom, and Deception in the New World by Greg Grandin - History

January 13, 2015


Drawing on research on four continents, THE EMPIRE OF NECESSITY explores the multiple forces that culminated in a remarkable slave rebellion one morning in 1805. Historian Greg Grandin uses the dramatic happenings of that day to map a new transnational history of slavery in the Americas, capturing the clash of peoples, economies and faiths that was the New World in the early 1800s.

Hitler's Charisma: Leading Millions into the Abyss by Laurence Rees - History

January 28, 2014


At the age of 24, in 1913, Adolf Hitler was eking out a living as a painter of pictures for tourists in Munich. Nothing marked him in any way as exceptional, but he did possess certain distinguishing characteristics: a capacity to hate, an inability to accept criticism, and a massive overconfidence in his own abilities. This is the focus of Laurence Rees’s social, psychological and historical investigation into a personality that would end up articulating the hopes and dreams of millions of Germans.

The Hour of Peril: The Secret Plot to Murder Lincoln Before the Civil War by Daniel Stashower - History

January 28, 2014


In February 1861, just days before he assumed the presidency, Abraham Lincoln faced a “clear and fully-matured” threat of assassination as he traveled by train from Springfield to Washington for his inauguration. Over a period of 13 days, the legendary detective Allan Pinkerton worked feverishly to detect and thwart the plot, assisted by a captivating young widow named Kate Warne, America’s first female private eye.

Hundred Days: The Campaign That Ended World War I by Nick Lloyd - History

January 28, 2014


Acclaimed military historian Nick Lloyd leads readers into the endgame of World War I, showing how the timely arrival of American men and materiel --- as well as the bravery of French, British and Commonwealth soldiers --- helped to turn the tide on the Western Front. An epic tale ranging from the ravaged fields of Flanders to the revolutionary streets of Berlin, HUNDRED DAYS recalls the bravery and sacrifice that finally silenced the guns of Europe.

Journey to the Sun: Junipero Serra's Dream and the Founding of California by Gregory Orfalea - Biography/History

January 14, 2014


Combining biography, European history, knowledge of Catholic doctrine and anthropology, JOURNEY TO THE SUN brings original research and perspective to America’s creation story. Gregory Orfalea’s poetic and incisive recounting of Junípero Serra’s life shows how one man changed the future of California and in so doing affected the future of our nation.

Maximilian and Carlota: Europe's Last Empire in Mexico by M. M. McAllen - History

January 14, 2014


In this new telling of Mexico’s Second Empire and Louis Napoléon’s installation of Maximilian von Habsburg and his wife, Carlota of Belgium, as the emperor and empress of Mexico, MAXIMILIAN AND CARLOTA brings the dramatic and tragic story of this six-year-siege to life.

Ping-Pong Diplomacy: The Secret History Behind the Game That Changed the World by Nicholas Griffin - Sports History

January 7, 2014


Nicholas Griffin tells the strange and tragic story of how the game of Ping-Pong was manipulated at the highest levels; how the Chinese government helped cover up the death of 36 million peasants by holding the World Table Tennis Championships during the Great Famine; how championship players were driven to their deaths during the Cultural Revolution; and, finally, how the survivors were reconvened in 1971 and ordered to reach out to their American counterparts.

The Pope and Mussolini: The Secret History of Pius XI and the Rise of Fascism in Europe by David I. Kertzer - History

January 6, 2015


THE POPE AND MUSSOLINI tells the story of two men who came to power in 1922, and together changed the course of 20th-century history. In most respects, they could not have been more different. One was scholarly and devout, the other thuggish and profane. Yet Pope Pius XI and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini had many things in common, and each relied on the other to consolidate his power and achieve his political goals.

Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 1839-42 by William Dalrymple - Military History

January 14, 2014


In 1839, nearly 20,000 British troops poured through the mountain passes into Afghanistan and installed the exiled Shah Shuja on the throne as their puppet. But after little more than two years, the Afghans exploded into rebellion. The British were forced to retreat and were then ambushed in the mountains by simply-equipped Afghan tribesmen. Just one British man made it through. But William Dalrymple takes us beyond the story of this colonial humiliation and illuminates the key connections between then and now.

The Rise of the Tudors: The Family That Changed English History by Chris Skidmore - History

January 20, 2015


THE RISE OF THE TUDORS is a tale of brutal feuds and deadly civil wars, and the remarkable rise of the Tudor family from obscure Welsh gentry to the throne of England --- a story that began 60 years earlier with Owen Tudor's affair with Henry V's widow, Katherine of Valois. Drawing on eyewitness reports, newly discovered manuscripts and the latest archaeological evidence, Chris Skidmore vividly recreates this battle-scarred world and the reshaping of British history.

Some Girls, Some Hats and Hitler: A True Love Story by Trudi Kanter - Memoir

January 14, 2014


In 1938, Trudi Kanter fell deeply in love with Walter Ehrlich, a charming and romantic businessman. But as Hitler’s tanks rolled into Austria, the world this young Jewish couple knew collapsed, leaving them desperate to escape. This is the true story of Trudi’s astonishing journey from Vienna to Prague to blitzed London seeking safety for her and Walter amid the horror engulfing Europe.

Waking from the Dream: The Struggle for Civil Rights in the Shadow of Martin Luther King, Jr. by David L. Chappell - History

January 14, 2014


David L. Chappell reveals that the civil rights movement entered a new phase following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. These were years when decisive, historic victories were no longer within reach, and veterans of the movement struggled to rally around common goals. WAKING FROM THE DREAM documents this struggle, including moments when the movement seemed on the verge of dissolution and the monumental efforts of its members to persevere.

The Wars of Reconstruction: The Brief, Violent History of America's Most Progressive Era by Douglas R. Egerton - History

January 21, 2014


Previous histories of Reconstruction have focused on Washington politics. But in this sweeping, prodigiously researched narrative, Douglas Egerton brings a much bigger, even more dramatic story into view, exploring state and local politics and tracing the struggles of some 1,500 African-American officeholders, in both the North and South, who fought entrenched white resistance.

Without Mercy: The Stunning True Story of Race, Crime, and Corruption in the Deep South by David Beasley - History

January 28, 2014


On December 9, 1938, the state of Georgia executed six black men in 81 minutes in Tattnall Prison’s electric chair. While they were arrested, convicted, sentenced and executed in as little as six weeks, E. D. Rivers, the governor of the state, oversaw a pardon racket for white killers and criminals, allowed the Ku Klux Klan to infiltrate his administration, and bankrupted the state. David Beasley’s WITHOUT MERCY is the story of the stunning injustice of these executions.