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March 2014

History Books Roundup: Reliving the Past

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.

The Age of Radiance: The Epic Rise and Dramatic Fall of the Atomic Era by Craig Nelson - History

March 25, 2014

From the New York Times bestselling author of ROCKET MEN and the award-winning biographer of Thomas Paine comes the first complete history of the Atomic Age, a brilliant, magisterial account of the men and women who uncovered the secrets of the nucleus, brought its power to America, and ignited the 20th century.

Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Survival Story in the History of Exploration by David Roberts - Travel/Adventure

March 3, 2014

On January 17, 1913, alone and near starvation, Douglas Mawson, leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, was hauling a sledge to get back to base camp. He plunged through a snow bridge, dangling over an abyss by the sledge harness. A line of poetry gave him the will to haul himself back to the surface. On February 8th, when he staggered back to base, his features unrecognizably skeletal, the first teammate to reach him blurted out, “Which one are you?”

The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood by Irving Finkel - History

March 25, 2014

Since the Victorian period, it has been understood that the story of Noah derives from a much older story that existed centuries before in ancient Babylon. But the relationship between the Babylonian and biblical traditions was shrouded in mystery. Then, in 2009, Irving Finkel, a world authority on ancient Mesopotamia, found himself playing detective when a member of the public arrived at the museum with an intriguing cuneiform tablet that revealed a new version of the Babylonian Flood Story.

Astoria: Astor and Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival by Peter Stark - History

February 10, 2015

ASTORIA is the true-adventure tale of the 1810 Astor Expedition, an epic, now forgotten, three-year journey to forge an American empire on the Pacific Coast. Peter Stark offers a harrowing saga in which a band of explorers battled nature, starvation and madness to establish the first American settlement in the Pacific Northwest and opened up what would become the Oregon trail, permanently altering the nation's landscape and its global standing.

The Bohemians: Mark Twain and the San Francisco Writers Who Reinvented American Literature by Ben Tarnoff - History

February 24, 2015

The Bohemian moment achieved immortality in the writings of Mark Twain. San Francisco gave him his education as a writer and helped inspire the astonishing innovations that radically reimagined American literature. At once an intimate portrait of an eclectic, unforgettable group of writers and a history of a cultural revolution in America, THE BOHEMIANS reveals how a brief moment on the western frontier changed our country forever.

Dying Every Day: Seneca at the Court of Nero by James Romm - History

March 11, 2014

DYING EVERY DAY is a portrait of Seneca’s moral struggle in the midst of madness and excess. In his treatises, Seneca preached a rigorous ethical creed, exalting heroes who defied danger to do what was right or embrace a noble death. As Nero’s adviser, Seneca was presented with a more complex set of choices, as the only man capable of summoning the better aspect of Nero’s nature, yet remaining at Nero’s side and colluding in the evil regime he created.

Encounters at the Heart of the World: A History of the Mandan People by Elizabeth A. Fenn - History

March 17, 2015

ENCOUNTERS AT THE HEART OF THE WORLD concerns the Mandan Indians, iconic Plains people whose teeming, busy towns on the upper Missouri River were for centuries at the center of the North American universe. Elizabeth A. Fenn retrieves their history by piecing together important new discoveries in archaeology, anthropology, geology, climatology, epidemiology and nutritional science, offering us a new perspective on early American history, a new interpretation of the American past.

The Eternal Nazi: From Mauthausen to Cairo, the Relentless Pursuit of SS Doctor Aribert Heim by Nicholas Kulish and Souad Mekhennet - History

December 2, 2014

Dr. Aribert Heim worked at the Mauthausen concentration camp for only a few months in 1941 but left a devastating mark. According to the testimony of survivors, Heim euthanized patients with injections of gasoline into their hearts and performed surgeries on otherwise healthy people. In THE ETERNAL NAZI, Nicholas Kulish and Souad Mekhennet reveal for the first time how Heim evaded capture while inspiring a manhunt that outlived him by many years.

The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II by Denise Kiernan - History

March 11, 2014

Drawing from the voices and experiences of the women who lived and worked in the top-secret World War II town of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, THE GIRLS OF ATOMIC CITY rescues a remarkable, forgotten chapter of World War II from obscurity. Denise Kiernan captures the spirit of the times through these women: their pluck, their desire to contribute, and their enduring courage.

The Hotel on Place Vendome: Life, Death, and Betrayal at the Hotel Ritz in Paris by Tilar J. Mazzeo - History

February 24, 2015

When France fell to the Germans in June 1940, the legendary Hôtel Ritz on the Place Vendôme --- an icon of Paris frequented by film stars and celebrity writers, American heiresses and risqué flappers, playboys and princes --- was the only luxury hotel of its kind allowed in the occupied city by order of Adolf Hitler. Tilar J. Mazzeo traces the history of this cultural landmark from its opening in Fin-de-Siècle Paris.

House of Outrageous Fortune: Fifteen Central Park West, the World's Most Powerful Address by Michael Gross - History

March 10, 2015

America’s foremost chronicler of the upper crust, journalist and bestselling author Michael Gross, turns his gimlet eye on the new-money wonderland that’s sprung up on the southwest rim of Central Park. Gross creates a dishy exposé of today’s wealthiest and most famous --- recounting the record-setting building’s inspired genesis, costly construction, and the flashy international lifestyle it has brought to a once benighted and socially déclassé Manhattan neighborhood.

Machine Made: Tammany Hall and the Creation of Modern American Politics by Terry Golway - History/Politics

March 9, 2015

History casts Tammany Hall as shorthand for the worst of urban politics: graft and patronage personified by notoriously crooked characters. In his groundbreaking work, MACHINE MADE, journalist and historian Terry Golway dismantles these stereotypes, focusing on the many benefits of machine politics for marginalized immigrants. As thousands sought refuge from Ireland’s potato famine, the very question of who would be included under the protection of American democracy was at stake.

Mission at Nuremberg: An American Army Chaplain and the Trial of the Nazis by Tim Townsend - History

March 3, 2015

As an Army chaplain during World War II, Lutheran minister Henry Gerecke tended to the battered bodies and souls of wounded and dying GIs outside London. At the war’s end, Gerecke was recruited for the most difficult engagement of his life: ministering to the 21 Nazi leaders awaiting trial at Nuremburg. MISSION AT NUREMBERG takes us inside the Nuremburg Palace of Justice, into the cells of the accused, and the courtroom where they faced their crimes.

Operation Storm: Japan's Top Secret Submarines and Its Plan to Change the Course of World War II by John J. Geoghegan - History

March 18, 2014

In 1941, the architects of Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor planned a bold follow-up: a potentially devastating air raid --- this time against New York City and Washington, DC. John Geoghegan’s meticulous research, including first-person accounts from the I-401 crew and the U.S. capturing party, creates a fascinating portrait of the Sen-toku's desperate push into Allied waters and the U.S. Navy's dramatic pursuit, masterfully illuminating a previously forgotten story of the Pacific war.

Roosevelt's Centurions: FDR and the Commanders He Led to Victory in World War II by Joseph E. Persico - History

March 4, 2014

All American presidents are commanders in chief by law. Few perform as such in practice. In ROOSEVELT'S CENTURIONS, distinguished historian Joseph E. Persico reveals how, during World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt seized the levers of wartime power like no president since Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War.

The Scarlet Sisters: Sex, Suffrage, and Scandal in the Gilded Age by Myra MacPherson - Biography

March 3, 2015

Victoria Woodhull and Tennie Clafli were two sisters whose radical views on sex, love, politics and business threatened the white male power structure of the 19th century and shocked the world. Here, award-winning author Myra MacPherson deconstructs and lays bare the manners and mores of Victorian America, remarkably illuminating the struggle for equality that women are still fighting today.

Seven Elements that Changed the World: An Adventure of Ingenuity and Discovery by John Browne - History/Nature & Ecology

March 1, 2014

With carbon we access heat, light and mobility at the flick of a switch, while silicon enables us to communicate across the globe in an instant. Yet our use of the Earth's mineral resources is not always for the benefit of humankind --- our relationship with the elements is one of great ambivalence. John Browne, CEO of British Petroleum (BP) for 12 years, vividly describes how seven elements are shaping the world around us, for better and for worse.

Washed Away: How the Great Flood of 1913, America's Most Widespread Natural Disaster, Terrorized a Nation and Changed It Forever by Geoff Williams - History

March 6, 2014

The storm began March 23, 1913, with a series of tornadoes that killed 150 people and injured 400. Then the freezing rains started and the flooding began. It continued for days. Some people drowned in their attics, others on the roads when the tried to flee. It was the nation's most widespread flood ever --- more than 700 people died, hundreds of thousands of homes and buildings were destroyed, and millions were left homeless.